“The genius can do anything but does one thing at a time.” - Matthew McConaughey
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This summer has been rough, and I knew it would be going in. My schedule for the past three months has been jam-packed with both work-related and non-work-related events.
I think things are finally settling down (at least I hope), and I can get back to normal (if that's a thing anymore.) Normal means a consistent writing and publishing routine. This is the longest I've gone without publishing something since I started this little journey. To help me get back into the groove, I'm starting with a slow pitch right over the plate.
This past weekend I was finishing up some projects on a rental property of mine and was looking for something to listen to while I worked. I LOVE podcasts, and they are almost my exclusive way to consume info these days. If I had to guess, I would say I watch less than three hours of TV a week, of any type. I do read most nights before bed. But other than that, it's podcasts.
Most mornings, I listen to investing and financial news podcasts to brush up on everything that happened in the markets the day before and what all the talking heads expect to happen that day.
In the car, I rarely listen to music anymore. Instead, I will pop on one of my favorite climate change podcasts or possibly a long-form interview show like the Lex Fridman Podcast.
Even at work, I now go to one of my favorite podcasts instead of turning on some tunes when I am working on a task that doesn't require much concentration, like replying to email.
It's the most efficient way to consume info and be entertained.
My project this past weekend involved some painting as well as power-washing and staining a deck. I needed something good to listen to, but I didn't want to have to stop every hour or two and make my next selection. So, I decided to try an audible book. Somehow, even with my love of podcasts, I had yet to try this medium of consumption.
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey.
Alright, Alright, Alright.
Less than twenty minutes in, my only thought was, "What. The. Fuck?"
If even half the shit in this book is true, his life is more far-fetched than any movie he's ever been in. And that list includes Interstellar.
Seriously, they should take this book and make a movie out of it. But it would have to be pitched as some ridiculous comedy with a love twist, family issues, and a hero's ending.
I say ridiculous because some of the stuff in this book is hard to believe. I'm a big Matthew McConaughey fan, but this shit seems too good to be true.
Like his dad performing CPR on a cockatiel (yes, a fucking bird) named Lucky and actually bringing it back to life.
Or the fact that he did peyote in a cage with a mountain lion in Mexico.
And my favorite. His brother, who was eight years old at the time, was forced to down two beers by his dad so his brother could win a contest by pissing over some guy's head.
I've done some crazy shit in my day, and I've got the police record to prove it, but this book makes my life look so goddamn boring it's embarrassing.
All that said, there is also plenty of wisdom and numerous lessons to be found in this book. Including one theme that I have been focused on lately. And that is, what to do with my time. Not that I have extra time, just lying around, waiting to be used on something. But am I using my time on the things I should be?
This is a recurring theme throughout the book. It's basically in the title. Greenlights refer to the good things. The things that push us forward in our life. That help us accomplish our goals and reach our full potential. That validate our work and encourage us to go at it even harder.
Red lights are the things that slow us down, prevent us from moving forward, squash our dreams, and prevent us from getting to the greenlights, even though we can see them in the distance.
At the beginning of the book, Matthew (yes, we're on a first-name basis now) mentions that we can find more greenlights by simply figuring out where the red lights exist in our lives and changing our paths to avoid them. This isn't a novel idea. It's basically a form of simplification and eliminating from our lives what isn't producing. But hearing it in that laid-back southern drawl makes it seem so much more practical.
Later in the book, he talks specifically of juggling too many items and, as he says, "making B’s" in all of them. For him, five things were important that he needed to tend to every day, his family, his foundation, a production company, a music label, and acting. He decided to close down the production company and the music label to narrow his focus and "make A's in the other three." The other two were just red lights at that point.
For most of us, simplifying our lives won't be as glamorous as shutting down a production company or a music label. I probably couldn't handle the shit that comes with running just one of those, let alone both, but it is a lesson we can all apply and benefit from. Somewhere in all of our lives, there are things we are spending time on that just aren't giving anything back in return. And those things are most likely preventing us from spending more time on the things that really matter, things that could be propelling us forward were they given more of our attention.
The book's last section is titled "Live Your Legacy Now" and discusses a topic I have touched on in past newsletters. Matthew talks about how, at that point, the characters he was playing and the films he was doing felt more vital than who he was in the story that was his life.
It's hard to believe someone in his position can feel that way. If he can feel it, we all can. Not that we are all actors, playing amazing characters on the big screen, but we can all feel like we aren't living our legacy. Like we aren't doing what it is we are meant to do.
I didn't expect that topic to be brought to the forefront that afternoon while listening to this book, but I guess when something is weighing on your mind, there is no escaping it.
When you can see that greenlight in the distance, it's hard to take your eyes off it, even when there's a sea of red lights to navigate to reach it.
That’s all for now.
I hope you all have a great week!
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"Less than twenty minutes in, my only thought was, "What. The. Fuck?""
I had the same reaction 😂 really amusing read, though and the whole thing about being less impressed and more involved has really stuck with me