Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Lessons in Goal Achievement from a Ghost

The Subway Ghost

I saw the movie Ghost recently starring Patrick Swayze as Sam Wheat, Demi Moore as Molly Jensen and Whoppi Goldberg as Oda Mae Brown. After all these years it's still a charming, sad yet funny movie.

There's a saying that when you read a book the second time that you don't see something in the book that wasn't there before; you see something in yourself that wasn't there before. The same can be said about watching a movie the second time around.

Whoopi Goldberg is a scream in the movie but the scene that made me smile ironically was one of the scenes involving the subway ghost. So here are five lessons on goal achievement that you can learn from the movie Ghost.

1. Find a Mentor

In order to increase his effectiveness as a ghost Sam realises needs to be able to move physical objects if he is to be able to save the life of his partner. He saw a ghost on the subway who was able to do so with consummate ease.

So he seeks out the subway ghost (played by Vincent Schiavelli) to teach him how to do this even although he didn't receive a warm welcome from the rather territorial ghost the last time they had an encounter. When you set your goals seek mentoring from someone who has already accomplished what you are striving to accomplish.

2. Be Persistent

Sam eventually finds the subway ghost who becomes very agitated upon seeing him and scares the living daylights out of the passengers on the train by knocking away their newspapers and other belongings while shouting at Sam to get off his train. However, Sam holds his ground.

This impromptu demonstration of the ghost's powers strengthens Sam's resolve. This ghost knows how to do what he can't. He needs this ghost to teach him.

Sam's persistence pays off and the ghost agrees to teach him. If you are persistent you will find doors where before there were only walls.

3. Tap into The Power of Your Mind

Now this is the bit that made me smile. Sam tries in vain to move a bottle cap with his finger and the ghost berates him reminding him that he's dead and informing him that his body is no more than an illusion. Then subway ghost tells him:

"Use your mind. You've gotta focus."

There is so much hidden meaning in this one short scene that I'm sure is lost on the majority of its millions of viewers. However, I would hazard a guess that the writer Bruce Joel Rubin, who is said to have an interest in spirituality, was well aware of the deeper significance of this scene.

The advice that the subway ghost was giving Sam is the same advice that anyone can adopt to transform their life.

The ghost Sam no longer had a body as we know it. And we are not our bodies. Just like you're not the car you drive. Your body is your physical vehicle in this plane of existence.

We are spiritual beings but because of a tendency to focus on our physicality rather than what we want to achieve we limit ourselves.

To achieve change in your external world you have to direct your mind on our desired outcome. You have to focus, unwaveringly, on your desired outcome.

Once Sam was able to focus he was able to make that bottle cap skid along the platform. When you are able to develop your focus you will see dramatic changes in your external world.

4. Think Big but Start Small

The subway ghost made Sam practice with a tiny bottle cap. He knew the importance of starting small.

However, you have to keep the big picture of what you want to accomplish in your sights. Then you can steadily grow towards your goal. No matter how big your goal is, to accomplish it, you have to take the first small step.


1. The Sistine Chapel was painted one stroke at a time.
2. The Great Pyramid of Giza was constructed one block at a time.
3. The Great Wall of China was built one brick at a time.

And many more wonderful things were all created bit by bit. And everything in existence was once just a thought. So think big but don't allow yourself to be impeded by your grand vision. Simply take that first small step and follow that with the next logical step.

5. Define Your Purpose

Sam may have died in the physical sense but his love for Molly lived on and this was the fuel that drove him towards his goal to protect her. Similarly, you have to identify your purpose in life. You have to know your reason why or else you will quit at the first hurdle.

Without purpose your thoughts will be just idle fantasy.

"Until though is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment."
James Allen

The subway ghost may have been a little crazy but he still knew a thing or two about effecting change and ultimately about achieving goals.


  1. Excellent post. I absolutely agree with these five lessons on achieving your goals. (One of my favorite movies - 'though very sad at certain points in the movie.)
    Thanks, Tom

  2. Hi Tom,

    I'm glad you liked this post.

    Thank you for stopping by.