Personal Development

How Matthew McConaughey Helped Me Discover the True Meaning of Success

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I was on a call with my coach and he asked me this question: “To feel successful in the day I need to…”

And there it was, just like that, writing down my beliefs changed my formula for success.

I’ve been struggling lately as a self-employed entrepreneur. I never quite feel like I have won the day. I’ve been spending time being reactive instead of proactive.

I want that feeling of success at the end of the day, hanging my hat and being able to say I did all I could to move the success needle forward. Where I thought I was confident before, now I had this big lack of truly understanding what success is.

So, I went back to my roots—my notebooks and the books I read earlier in my life. For me, this is always the path to really understanding what success is. And I think I’ve found it in my favorite book of all time: The Greatest Salesman in the World.

I had two mentors growing up who I identified with the most, who really resonated with me as teachers: Jim Rohn and John Wooden. Both shared similar messages and were around in the ’60s and ’70s. I loved the way they both spoke—smooth, confident, and full of wisdom.

Related: Unpopular Opinion: Self-Help Books Do More Harm Than Good

The Definition of Success

Jim Rohn said, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”

John Wooden said, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

However, I really think the first time the definition of success made sense to me was when I read about it in The Greatest Salesman—which actually was a recommendation from Matthew McConaughey.

man on mountain peak jumps up victoriously with arms extended overhead during sunrise or sunset

I remember reading an article about him. He was sitting at a friend’s house or something, and while he was waiting, he saw this book on the table. He picked it up and read it in one sitting. (It’s a very short book of only 111 pages.) He said it was amazing.

So, I ordered it and was instantly hooked. I didn’t finish it all the way through at first. In fact, if you do what the book says, you must read one scroll at a time before going on to the next. Each one takes 30 days if you follow the directions.

The book has 10 scrolls based on timeless principles. While reading the first scroll, I came across this nugget of wisdom on page 54:

“Only principles endure and these I now possess, for the laws that will lead me to greatness are contained in the words of these scrolls. What they will teach me is more to prevent failure than to gain success, for what is success other than a state of mind? Which two, among a thousand wise men, will define success in the same words; yet failure is always described but one way. Failure is man’s inability to reach his goals in life, whatever they may be.

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“In truth, the only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits. Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure.”

Related: Forget S.M.A.R.T. Goals—Achieve True Success Like This

My Definition of Success

So, what is success? Well, it looks like it is different for you and me—a satire definition to all the success books written over the years.

And the truth is there are many ways to find it.

For instance, if you were to ask someone to build a car, could it be built multiple ways? For sure! So, it looks like there are multiple paths to success.

The ultimate goal would be to go down the path that offers you fulfillment.

So, as you underwrite that deal, present those offers, grind day in and day out, just remember to give your best effort, work on your definition of success, and give yourself a break sometimes. You are trying your best with the information you have at hand.

The journey is better than the end anyway.

What’s your definition of success? What are you doing to work toward it? 

Comment below!

Scott Hollister is a real estate investor, lender, and licensed agent in central Connecticut. He began real estate investing in 2012 with a house hack after his parents lost their home in the reces...
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    Adrian Ayub
    Replied about 1 month ago
    Thanks for an amazing next book recommendation. Growing up never knowing the pre-social media era has to lead me to have a warped sense of what success means. I have struggled with what I truly want over my 20's, and whether to pursue a lifestyle entrepreneur existence and have the freedom to travel the world as I have done before, or to build a massive operation but have a lot of overhead and no free time. Perhaps If I had the ability to have hindsight in the present and visualize what 10 years from now; what would future me define as a successful decade? What would be my values at that juncture in time? Anyways thank you Scott.
    Ryan Luby Rental Property Investor from CT
    Replied about 1 month ago
    I love this. Insanely valuable wisdom here. My definition of success changes minute to minute, and even varies depending on the subject matter (Success in my life overall, versus success in how I approach each day or task) Content like this is extremely important, especially in a place like BP where there is a tremendous amount of applicable, how-to information, with detailed step by step reviews of deals, and no shortage of stories about investing.. but without understanding and having a sense of your purpose we will all burnout, change direction wildly, get depressed etc.. Great Post!
    Brian Glasspoole Rental Property Investor from Kitsap, WA
    Replied about 1 month ago
    Very Inspirational Post.
    Eddy Ogbekhilu
    Replied 30 days ago
    Brilliant perspective. Thanks for the post.
    Daniel DeSurra Rental Property Investor from Bandon, OR
    Replied 28 days ago
    Thanks for sharing wisdom Scott!