I just finished reading Matthew McConaughey’s memoir, Greenlights. The actor/producer/author takes you on a ride through his early life growing up in Texas, his first acting break, and the successes and adjustments he has experienced along the way. He believes that “a greenlight is being kind to our future self. It’s things in our life that affirm our way, they say ‘go, proceed, more, please carry on.’ While yellow and red lights make us slowdown in life — they can be crisis, hardship, intervention, interruption.”
The reviews of Greenlights are mixed but I put myself in the camp of those who enjoyed and were entertained by it. I also plucked out a few nuggets of wisdom from his “collection of stories, prayers, poems, people and places and a whole bunch of bumper stickers.”
Create your own Greenlights. Sometimes you have to take charge and guide your own way. As McConaughey says, “I created a lot of greenlights by taking responsibility today, which created freedom for me tomorrow. I made decisions today, and sometimes even sacrifices, that teed me up for more pleasure or more of what I wanted tomorrow.” He also found that the red and yellow lights in life revealed themselves to have at least a greenlight asset in the future. This is a great reminder to take a step back and reflect on the lessons you are learning when things may not be going your way.
Don’t beat yourself up for making a mistake. McConaughey lists a number of bad choices or events that occurred early in childhood and in his career. He found that he had accumulated a lot of mental baggage that if left unprocessed kept him from moving forward. He attributes the ability to forget about these instances as a form of freedom from self. As individuals and co-workers, we need to adopt what Paul Bear Bryant said of mistakes, “Admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.”
Attitude. McConaughey speaks directly to adopting a particular attitude. He talks about how the word ‘can’t’ wasn’t allowed in their house. A line from one of his first movies, “Just Keep Livin’” is his mantra and the name of his foundation. McConaughey’s positive attitude is one of the biggest contributors to his success. Our attitude is 100% in our control and can set the tone when you get up every morning.
Admittedly the items above are not new concepts, but sometimes hearing how someone else interprets the milestones in their lives reenergizes our own commitment to improvement. Here’s to catching and creating more Greenlights!