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4 Lessons Matthew McConaughey Can Teach Us About Success

Nov 19, 2020

A well-known and respected face, Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey can teach us a lot about how to live a more meaningful life.

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In a recent interview, the Oscar winner delved into what life was like growing up, family, maintaining oneself, the circle of life, life after losing his father and becoming a parent.

Here are 4 simple but beautiful things you can take away from the man himself:


1. Don't hold grudges

McConaughey grew up in Uvalde, Texas. His mother was a school teacher, and his father was in the oil business.

"We were always a tight-knit family. Love was something that was never in question. It was a raucous family. We fought, and we hugged, and we wrestled, but the love was never in question," McConaughey says.

"If you got in trouble for something [in my family], nobody afterwards was like, 'I can't believe you did…' No, it was done. No grudges. And if you did have something you needed to hash out, my parents would be like, 'Alright, here we go. We're going to sit here and hash this out. I don't care if we go through the night. I don't care if you miss school tomorrow and I miss work. We will hash this out to a point we will not walk away from the conversation until we've all shed our tears and hugged and said, 'I love you.'"


2. Know when to walk away

McConaughey knows the importance of knowing when to walk away.

"Right after I had done like... four romantic comedies, and had been very successful at them, I wanted to change my career and do more dramatic work. But I wasn't getting offered those jobs. So, because I couldn't do what I wanted to do, I just stopped doing what I was doing," McConaughey says.

"One side of me is like... You're getting great offers to do work that you like to do in these rom-coms. Just do them. Be happy about them. But the other side is like, 'No, no. I want to hold out and find some work that challenges the vitality of my life and who I am in it. And if I can't do that, then I'm not going to do any work."

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3. Embrace solitude

After his breakout role in the 1996 courtroom drama film A Time to Kill, McConaughey was famous overnight. "I had to go away and go; what does all the affluence mean? What do all these opportunities mean? What do I want to do? Who am I, Matthew? What kind of work do I want to do? What do all these people saying 'I love you' all of a sudden mean? That's a word, in my family, we don't throw around," McConaughey says.

He needed some time to, as he put it, "give myself some good answers," to hear himself think and get answers to hard questions. In Hollywood, he didn't have the room to ask such questions or even delve into what they meant. This advice is especially important this year.

"Solitude does not mean I go off and have a good time with myself. Solitude usually starts with me not enjoying my company at all. I wrestle with myself until I come out the other side saying 'Okay, McConaughey, we better shake hands since you're the only dude I can't get rid of… we better figure out how to get along, buddy, because I can't get rid of you.'"

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4. Be less impressed, more involved

One night sometime after McConaughey's father passed away, he awoke from a dream and carved a phrase on a tree. The phrase was "be less impressed, more involved." The one crutch he could always rely on was his father. But with that crutch gone, he had no choice but to grab ahold of those lessons his father taught him and live them out fully.

"I noticed at that time in my life, I was like, 'Oh, there's all these things in my life that I look up to.' Fame, people, money. They're mortal things. They're not immortal things. They're mortal things on this Earth that I was in such reverence for. I also noticed there's a lot of things that I saw as beneath me, that I patronised, condescended.

"Everything rose, eye level, sobering, flat. I could see further, wider, more clearly. My head was higher. My heart was higher. I was ready for the scars, risks and going, 'Now you march forward with what you've learned from your dad', knowing that he's not right behind you. March forward, head high and heart high, into this world and take more risk and quit having so much reverence for these mortal things."

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