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Matthew McConaughey is an Oscar-winning actor best known for his films Dazed and Confused, A Time to Kill, The Wedding Planner, Lincoln Lawyer, Dallas Buyers Club, Interstellar, and many others. His new book Greenlights is a New York Times bestseller.
The Oscar winner is also the creative director of Wild Turkey. So it was appropriate that we began our discussion with a toast to his Wild Turkey Longbranch, an 8-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon developed by McConaughey. The drink, similar to McConaughey, was warm and inviting. Talking to McConaughey was like meeting an old friend.
McConaughey talked about what it's like to grow up, have a family, sustain yourself and the cycle of life, and examine how life has changed after losing his father and becoming parents. What follows are some lessons you can learn from him in order to lead a more meaningful life.
You can see an excerpt from our conversation below:
McConaughey's responses have been compressed and edited for readability.
1. Don't hold a grudge
McConaughey grew up in Uvalde, Texas. His mother was a kindergarten teacher and his father was in the oil business. "We've always been a close family. Love was something that was never questioned. It was a noisy family. We fought and hugged and wrestled, but love was never in question," says McConaughey.
"If you got into trouble about something (in my family), no one said afterwards," I can't believe you did it … "No, it was done. No grudges. And if you had something to hack out, my parents would say, "All right. Here we go. We'll sit here and knock this out. I don't care if we go through the night. I don't care if you missed school tomorrow and I'll work this out to the point where we won't leave the conversation until we've all shed our tears and hugged each other and said, "I love you."
Science supports this view: A 2019 study by the Stanford Forgiveness Project found that carrying anger into old age is linked to higher levels of inflammation and chronic illness. Another 2019 study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes found that those with "random anger are less likely to take the perspective of others". As you can imagine, considering the perspectives of others is critical to relationship learning and success.
According to Dr. Frederic Luskin, founder of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, these psychophysiological responses cause real mental and physical harm, whether it's bitterness associated with anger or despair associated with despair. Holding on to grudges can degrade immune function, cause nervous system deregulation, and damage your cardiovascular health. It also locks you out of the reality that is unfolding around you and filters it through a lens of resentment.
So it is in your best interests to forgive and let go. As? By confronting conflicts with business partners, family members, friends or spouses. Look him in the eyes and lead the resentment so that it doesn't fester and slowly rot from the inside out.
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2. Know when to leave
In the 90s and early 2000s, McConaughey played highly paid romantic comedy roles left and right. Then he did something unexpected: he walked away. "Right after doing four romantic comedies and being very successful in them, I wanted to change my career and work more dramatically. But I wasn't offered those jobs. Well, because I couldn't." In order not to do what I wanted to do, I just stopped doing what I was doing, "says McConaughey.
He turned down significant paychecks (one was for $ 14.5 million) for 20 months to pursue a bigger cause. "One side of me is like … You get great offers for work that you enjoy doing in these rom-coms. Just do it. Be happy with it. But the other side is like," No, no I want to persevere and find a job that challenges the vitality of my life and that I'm in. And if I can't, I won't do any work. "
It is difficult to apply the brakes on the psychological momentum. We experience this in a variety of ways, regardless of whether it goes through the housework one after the other or, in the case of McConaughey, successive home runs with romantic comedies at the box office. But it's important to listen to your gut instinct. Intuition tends to improve with experience, and in his case leaving was the hardest and most important decision he made.
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3. Embrace loneliness
McConaughey was famous overnight following his breakout role in the 1996 courtroom drama film A Time to Kill. "I had to go and go; what does all the wealth mean? What do all these possibilities mean? What do I want to do? Who am I, Matthew? What kind of work do I want to do? What are all of these doing." People who suddenly say "I love you" mean that? We don't throw around in my family, "says McConaughey.
It took him some time to, as he put it, "give me some good answers", to hear himself thinking, and to get answers to difficult questions. He didn't have the space in Hollywood to ask such questions or even bother with their meanings. This advice is particularly important this year.
"Loneliness doesn't mean that I go out and have a good time with myself. Loneliness usually starts with not enjoying my company at all. I wrestle with myself until I come out on the other side and say, & # 39; Okay McConaughey, we better shake hands since then. You're the only guy I can't get rid of … we'd better find out how we get along, buddy, because I can't get rid of you. ""
Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick and one of the great writers of the American Renaissance, once quipped that "all profound things and emotions of things are preceded and accompanied by silence". Studies also support this idea. Silence and absence promote inner direction, authentic awareness and integration between your inner and outer direction. So during your time, focus solely on asking yourself difficult questions.
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4. Be less impressed, more involved
One night, sometime after McConaughey's father died, he woke up from a dream and carved a sentence on a tree. The phrase was "be less impressed, more involved". The only crutch he could always rely on was his father. But with that crutch gone, he had no choice but to take up the lessons his father had taught him and live them out to the full.
“I noticed at this point in my life that I was thinking, 'Oh, there are all these things in my life that I look up to.' Fame, people, money. They are mortal things. You are not immortal things. They are mortal things on this earth that I was so reverent for. I also noticed that there are many things that I saw below me, that I was patronizing, condescending.
"Everything rose, eye level, sobering, flat. I could see further, further, clearer. My head was higher. My heart was higher. I was ready for the scars, risks and walking." Now you march with that what you are, forward I learned from your father knowing that he is not right behind you. March forward, head up and heart up, into this world and take more risk and stop, so much awe of these mortals To have things. "
You may not be gracing the covers of magazines like McConaughey, but you can take advantage of the psychological processes that made him successful and use them to your advantage. Start by releasing the real estate in your head that every grudge occupies. Listen to your inner voice, intuition and instincts. Hugging time alone to ask yourself life's tough questions; and focus on what is most important in life – like values, not valuables.