5 Life-Altering Lessons From Pablo Escobar on Netflix's Narcos (Updated)

[Average read time: 5 minutes]

I am one of the millions of fans that will indulge in season 3 of the Netflix original series, Narcos, which will be available September 1st. The first two seasons saw the rise of Pablo Escobar and Colombia’s Medellin cartel. I binge-watched all of season 2 when it was released in 2016 – a bitter-sweet ending to a great Labor Day weekend. Is there a better way to celebrate tomorrow’s release than to focus on the man that started it all? I think not, but what lessons could I possibly learn from a man who is believed to have killed thousands of people and was one of the world’s largest suppliers of cocaine that I could apply my career, business, and life?

As I paid close attention, a few key themes emerged over and over again.

1) Having Passion

Whether you’re trying to solidify your position as the #1 cocaine supplier or simply wanting to advance your career, passion has a way of making things happen. You can overcome many shortcomings in business – lack of education or experience, to name a few, simply by being more passionate about what you’re doing.

The biggest mistake most people make is spending their time doing things they’re not passionate about. This choice can have long-term implications. Why not find something you truly care about and make that your life’s work? It will be exponentially more fulfilling when it’s all said and done.

With enough passion, you can do almost anything.

2) Confidence is Key

Confidence is vital in life. Without it, life is pretty scary. Confidence allows us to ask for a raise or promotion, lead organizations, and even ask a girl out on a date.

Many people don’t seek out a promotion or expand their business into new areas for fear of failure. A certain level of risk aversion is prudent, but sometimes you just have to go for it. 

Having enough confidence to take calculated risks is the gap between good and great.Click To Tweet

There’s a saying, “fake it ’til you make it” – there might be something to this. If you’re not naturally confident, using this approach could pay huge dividends. People respond well to confident people. This could be enough to get your foot in the door. After all, what do you have to lose? Anything you don’t know about what you’re getting yourself into can be learned.

I’m sure Pablo Escobar had his doubts as he organized the many rival gangs and cocaine distributors to form what became the Medellin Cartel. His confidence undoubtedly played a huge role in his rise to power.

3) Trust Your Instincts

Pablo Escobar is a savvy business man, shrewd planner, and a fierce leader. He led an organization with many employees, hundreds of stash houses and vehicles, as well as countless bank accounts.

Without a doubt, an operation of this scale requires a smart individual steering the ship. There’s only so much planning and thinking than can be done. At some point, a good leader uses the information available to them and makes decisions. Often times, information and data plays a small role in a decision. You have to be confident enough in yourself to trust your instincts.

You will never have 100% of the information you need to make a perfect decision.Click To Tweet

There are too many variables in real life.

Get comfortable with the unknown, trust yourself, and just do it.

4) Lead by Doing

Any mediocre person can be bossy and demand performance from behind a desk. To truly lead or grow your business, step out from behind that desk and lead your team from the frontline. That’s what separates a leader from a boss.

You can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Even if you don’t have employees and you’re simply managing your career, you’re willingness to step in and help when your team needs you can be the tipping point in your career.

If the people around you know that you have their back, they will trust you.Click To Tweet

When people trust you, they want to work with you and that could mean: more promotions, more clients, more money, etc.

Pablo Escobar is not too good to stand alongside his sicarios (hitmen) as they execute the more mundane activities of the business.

And he’s definitely not afraid to get his hands dirty.

5) Work-Life Balance

Regardless of how busy work gets, remember to make time for family, friends, and anything else that brings balance to your life.

Pablo Escobar knows this.

Even when he’s had a busy day, filled with killing, bribing, and kidnapping, he regularly makes time for family and friends. In one scene, he’s laying on the grass with his kids as they gaze at the passing clouds.

This mental escape provides an opportunity to recharge your batteries.

Whether you’re becoming one of the largest cocaine suppliers in the world or trying to grow your business, remember to take a break from time to time.

A Few Last Words

Success in business is not always attributed to knowledge or intellect, but rather how determined you are to succeed, how hard you’re willing to work, and what you’re willing to sacrifice to achieve your definition of success.

I love quotes, especially those I can relate to. I was born in Los Angeles to a poor family who immigrated from a poor town in Mexico. Fortunately, through hard work and determination on the part of my parents, we are no longer in that situation.

Huge shout out to them because I know how hard they worked!

A part of me respects anyone who can take their family from the bottom and forever change their family tree. Ideally, we should use our talents for good, but I won’t hate someone for choosing a different path.

“Imagine you were born in a poor family, in a poor city, in a poor country, and by the time you were 28 years old, you have so much money you can’t even count it. What do you do? You make your dreams come true.” — Steve Murphy in Narcos