During the five seasons of HBO’s The Wire (available to stream on HBO Now), Omar Little (Michael K. Williams) acquired quite a reputation for accomplishing what he’d set his mind to. While he lived by a strict personal code that set him apart from others in the game, his true engine was his dedication to the mission at hand. He didn’t just want to rob drug dealers, he wanted to rob the drug dealers, and eventually waged a one-man war (that was fueled by his rage over the death of his lover, Brandon) against Avon Barksdale (Wood Davis), his partner-in-crime, Stringer Bell (Idris Elba), and later, Marlo Stanfield (Jamie Hector), who took over the drug trade starting in the show’s fourth season. So, the next time you find yourself on a mission, let Omar’s musings about determination be your guide.
“The game’s out there, and it’s play or get played.”
While not as well known as his oft-repeated “All in the game, yo,” this quote speaks much more to Omar’s brutal day-to-day reality. When Detective McNulty (Dominic West) brings in Omar to discuss his do-it-yourself approach to Baltimore’s drug problem (something even he admits he has a begrudging respect for), he asks Omar to dial it back so his police unit can make their case and put Avon behind bars. Omar, however, explains why that’s simply not feasible, and, believe it or not, it’s not just because Avon put a bounty on Omar’s head. The simple fact is, when Omar’s on a mission, staying ahead of the game is all that’s on his mind. When you’re on a mission, your best possible outcome might result from having the same mentality.
“Y’all might need to think this through and stop wasting my time, ’cause Omar can come back tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day.”
The repetitiveness of life is something that we’ve all gone through, and to Omar, what he goes through every day is simply fulfilling a role he’s determined to play. His constant takedowns of Avon’s army of drug dealers was what he did, and it just so happened that he did it well. When your day-to-day missions start to get repetitive, you may as well embrace it. Although it is perfectly acceptable to let others know they should speed things up in the meantime. Nothing drags a mission down like wasted time, after all.
“At the end of the day, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.”
In one of Omar’s more philosophical moments, lifted directly from an old Italian proverb, he reveals how he sees the game, with Avon, Stringer, and himself all representing pieces on the chess board. The next time you feel overwhelmed with your task at hand, remember, the outcome may be the same for everyone, but not everyone’s remembered for how well they play.
“I don’t know about cards, but I think these 45s beat a full house.”
It’d be safe to call Omar Little an opportunist. This is a man that once robbed Proposition Joe (Robert F. Chew) of $2 million in stolen heroin that he later sold back to him at a discount. Naturally, when he robs a card game that happens to include Marlo Stanfield, Baltimore’s new kingpin, all he sees is another opportunity. When you’ve got a job to do, this kind of confident resilience (not to mention a clever one-liner) is bound to go a long way in helping you toward success.
“How you expect to run with the wolves come night when you spend all day sparring with the puppies?”
In what we can assume is a typical morning for Omar, he leaves his apartment to buy some cereal, (wearing nothing but his silk robe, by the way) and comes back with a haul of stolen drugs, surrendered willingly on his walk home. Regardless, he ends up dissatisfied, lamenting that it’s not what was stolen, but who exactly it was stolen from. To Omar, scores like this were simply sparring with puppies, whereas he always tried to run with the wolves. No matter what your mission, approach it with the same integrity that Omar was known for — strange as that may sound.
“Worryin’ about you is like wonderin’ if the sun gonna come up.”
After the eight or nine years of ‘rip and run’ missions, Omar had no shortage of enemies on the streets, and after he was duped into putting a bullet through the torso of methodical assassin Brother Mouzone in the show’s second season, Mouzone comes back looking for retribution. When the two men meet again, they’re each on their own missions, both with their guns drawn. Rather than engaging in a showdown, they come to find that they have a common enemy in Stringer, and they realize that they’ll be able to accomplish what they want should the two decide work together. When you’re on a mission, sometimes you may find an ally in someone you thought was an adversary, especially if the two of you share the same endgame.