Full text of Mathew McConaughey Motivational Speech transcript titled “Life Is Not Fair”
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Matthew McConaughey – American Actor and Producer
My hero, that’s who I chase. And when I was 15 years old at a very important person in my life, come to me and say, who’s your hero? And I said, I don’t know. I’ve got to think about that. Give me a couple of weeks. I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says, who’s your hero? I said, I thought about it.
You know who it is? I said, it’s me in 10 years.
So I turned 25, 10 years later, that same person comes to me and goes, so you a hero. And I was like, not even close, no, no, no. She said why? I said, because my hero is me at 35. So you see every day, every week, every month and every year in my life, my hero is always 10 years away. I’m never going to be my hero. I’m not going to attain that. I know I’m not. And that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chase.
I’m going to talk to you about some things I’ve learned in my journey. Most from experience, some of them I heard in passing, many of them I’m still practicing, but all of them I do believe are true. Life is not easy. It is not. Don’t try to make it that way. Life’s not fair. It never was. It isn’t now. And it won’t ever be, do not fall into the trap.
The entitlement trap of feeling like you’re a victim, you are not get over it, get on it. And yes, most things are more rewarding. When you break a sweat to get them. Happiness is an emotional response to an outcome. If I win, I will be happy if I don’t, I won’t. And I say, if happiness is what you’re after, then you’re going to be let down frequently. And you’re going to be unhappy much of your time.
Joy though. Joy’s a different thing. It’s something else. Joy is not a choice. It’s not a response to some result. It’s a constant joy is the feeling that we have from doing what we are fashioned to do. No matter the outcome.
Now, personally, as an actor, I started enjoying my work and literally being more happy to find success for yourself to check this out. I’m in, uh, South of new Orleans a few years ago, and I went to a voodoo shop, uh, and they had this, this, this wooden partition against the wall at these columns and in these columns where all these vials of these magic potions, right? And the headings above each potion, defining what they would give you where things like fertility, health, family, legal help, energy forgiveness, money, guess which column was empty Monday.
Let’s admit it. Money’s King. Today is what makes the world makes the world go round. It is success. The more we have, the more successful we are right now, I would argue that our cultural values have even been financial lives. Financial lives, uh, humility is not in anymore. It’s too passive. It’s a get rich quick on the internet riches, 15 minutes of fame world that we live in and we see and every day, but we all want to succeed, right?
So the question that we’ve got to ask ourselves is what success is to us. What success is to you? Is it more money? Maybe it’s a healthy family. Maybe it’s a happy marriage. Maybe it’s to help others to be famous, to be spiritually sound, to leave the world a little bit better place than you found it.
Continue to ask yourself that question. Now your answer may change over time and that’s fine, but do yourself this favor, whatever your answer is, don’t choose anything that will jeopardize yourself, prioritize as who you are, who you want to be.
And don’t spend time with anything that antagonizes your character. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid and it tastes sweet, but you will get cavities tomorrow. All right. Live is not a popularity contest. Be brave, take the Hill. But first answer that question. What’s my a Hill. So first we have to define success for ourselves. And then we have to put in the work to maintain, take that daily. Tally tend our garden, keep the things that are important to us in good shape, where you are now not is as important as where you are defining ourselves by what we are not is the first step that leads us to really know who we are. You know, that group of friends that you hang out with, that it really might not bring out the best in. Yeah. You know, they, they gossip too much or they’re kind of shady.
They really aren’t going to be there for you in a pinch. All right. How about that bar that we keep going to, that we always seem to have the worst hangover from or that computer screen, right? That computer screen that keeps giving us an excuse, not to get out of the house and engage with the world and get some real human interaction.
I bet that food that would keep eating the stuff that tastes so good going down. It makes us feel like crap. The next week we feel lethargic and we keep putting on weight. Well, those people, those places, those things stop giving them your time and energy just don’t go there. I mean, put them down. And when you do this, when you do put them down, when you quit go in there and you quit giving them your time, you inadvertently find yourself spending more time.
And in more places that are healthy for you, that bring you more joy. Why? Because you just eliminated the who’s. The where’s the watch and the winds that were keeping you from your identity. Trust me too much. The options. I promise you. The too many options will make a tyrant. I was off on some, get rid of the excess, the wasted time, decrease your options. If you do this, you will have accidentally almost innocent. Put in front of you. What is important to you? I process elimination, knowing who we are is hard. It’s hard. Give yourself a break.
Eliminate who you are not first. And you’re going to find yourself where you need to be. Don’t leave crumbs and the beauty of delayed gratification. So what a crumbs or the crumbs I’m talking about, or the choices that we make that make us have to look over our shoulder in the future.
I didn’t pay that guy back. The money that you owed him and tonight, you just saw him three rows behind you. Shit, you slept around on your spouse. And you just found out that tomorrow she and the lady you were having an affair with are going to be at the same PTA meeting shit. Again, you drank too much last night. You’re too hung over to drive your son to his 8:00 AM. Saturday morning baseball practice, the crumbs. They come in the form of regret, guilt and remorse. You leave trumps today. They will cause you more stress tomorrow. And they disallow you from creating a customized future in which you do not have to look over your shoulder.
So let’s flip the script instead of creating outcomes that take from us, let’s create more outcomes that pay us back, fill us up your fire lit, turn you on for the most amount of time in your future.
These are the choices I’m talking about. And this is the beauty of delayed gratification. I tee yourself up. Do yourself a favor, make the choices, the purchase just today that pay you back tomorrow. Residuals my business. We call it mailbox money. If I do my job well today, and that movie keeps rerunning on TV five years from now, I’m getting checks in the mailbox. It’s a heck of a deal. So whether it’s prepping the coffee maker the night before, so all you gotta do is press the button in the morning or getting ready for the job interview early.
So you don’t have to cram the night before or choose not to hook up with that married woman, because you know, you’re going to feel horrible about it tomorrow. And her husband carries a gun or paying your debts on time so that when you do see that guy three rows back tonight, you don’t have to hunker down your seed, hoping that he well see you get some ROI.
You know what that is? Return on investment, your investment, you customize your future. The only trumps make voluntary obligations. Hi mom and dad, since we were young, they teach us things. As children, teachers, mentors, the government and on laws. They all give us guidelines for which to navigate this life rules to by in the name of accountability, I’m not talking about those obligations. I’m talking about the ones that we make with ourselves, with our God, with our own consciousness. I’m talking about the you versus you obligations.
We have to have now, again, these are not societal laws, expectations that we acknowledge and endow for anyone other than ourselves. These are faith-based obligations that we make on our own. These are not the lowered insurance rates for a good driving record. You will not be fined or put in jail. If you do not gratify these obligations, I speak of no one else covers these, but you, they are your secrets with yourself, your own private counsel, personal protocols.
And while nobody throws you a party, when you abide by them, no one’s going to arrest you when you break them either except yourself or some cops who got to disturbing the peace call at two 30 in the morning, because you were playing bongos in your birthday suit. That was me and honest.
Man’s pillow is his peace of mind. And when you lay down on that pillow at night, no matter who’s in your bed, we all sleep alone. These are your personal Jimmy crickets. And there are not enough cops in the entire world to police them. It’s on you. It’s on you. A roof is a man-made thing. This may cut a little close to the bone since the geography, but I think we all were there and we, uh, we’ll all remember where we were, but in January 3rd, 1993, he was the NFL playoffs and your Houston Oilers for playing the Buffalo bills. The olders re-up 28 to three at half time, 35 to three early in the third Frank break. And the bills come back to win 41 to 38 and over time.
But one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history, you have the bills won, but they didn’t really beat the, or there’s the others lost that game. They beat themselves down.
Why why’d they beat themselves? Or how was it because of halftime? They put a ceiling, a roof, a limit on their belief in themselves, AKA prevent defense, or maybe they started thinking about the next opponent in the playoffs at halftime. I mean, they were up and they came out and played on their heels, lost the mental edge, the entire second half and wall up. They lost in Amir two quarters defensive coordinator.
Jim Eddy went from being called the defensive coordinator of the year and the man first in line to be a high, uh, head coach next year to a man without a job in the NFL. You ever choked, nobody’s ever choked. I have you. Don’t talking about fumbling at the goal line. It’s like foot in your mouth. Once you got to the microphone, had a brain freeze on the exam that you were totally prepared for. Forgot the punchline to a joke in front of 4,000, graduating students at the university of Houston commencement, or maybe you’ve had that feeling of, Oh my God.
Life just cannot get any better than this moment and ask yourself, do I deserve this? Now? What happens when we get that feeling tense up, we have this sort of outer body experience where we are literally seeing ourself in the third person. And we realized that the moment just got bigger than us ever felt that way I have.
And it’s because we have created a fictitious ceiling, a roof to our expectations of ourselves, a limit where we think it’s all too good to be true, but it’s not. And it’s not our right to say or believe it is. We shouldn’t create these restrictions on ourselves. A blue ribbon, a statue, a score, a great idea. The love of our life are you for bliss? Who are we to think that we don’t deserve, or haven’t earned these gifts when we get them? It’s not all right. But if we stay in process within ourselves in the joy of the doing, we will never choke at the finish line. Why? Because we aren’t thinking of the finish line because we’re not looking at the clock. We’re not watching ourselves on the jumbotron, performing the very act that we’re in the middle of. No we’re in process. The approach is the destination and we are never finished.
Bo Jackson, what did he do? He used to run over the goal line through the end zone and up the tunnel, the greatest snipers and marksman in the world. They don’t aim at the target. They aim on the other side of the target. We do our best when our destinations are beyond the measurement, when our reach continually exceeds our grasp. And when we have in more tool finished lines. And when we do this, the race is never over.
The journey has no port. The adventure never ends because we are always on the way. So do this, do this and let them, let somebody else come up and tap you on the shoulder and say, Hey, you scored. Let them run up and tap you on the phone and say, man, you won. Let them come. Tell you, you can go home. Now, let them say, I love you too.
Let them say, thank you. Take the lid off the man-made roofs that we put above ourselves and always play like an onion. The, uh, the late and great university of Texas football coach, Darryl Royal y’all remember him. He won a national championship in 69. He won a couple of nationals championships. <inaudible> no mine and a good friend of many people.
Now, a lot of people look up to this man. One of the people looked up to him, was a musician named Larry. Now at this time in his life, Larry was in the prime of his country music career. He had number one hits and his life was rolling. And he had it picked up a bad habit of, uh, snorting, the white stuff, somewhere along the line. And at one particular party, after a bathroom break, Larry went confidently up to his mentor Darrell, and he started telling him a story coach, Royal listened as he always had.
And when Larry finished his story and was about to walk away, coach Royal, put a gentle hand on his shoulder. And he very discreetly said, Hey, Larry, you, uh, you got something on you on your nose there. But Larry immediately hurried to the bathroom mirror where he saw some of the white powder that he hadn’t cleaned up. He was ashamed. He was embarrassed as much. It’s because he felt so disrespectful to coach Royal and as much because he’d obviously gotten too comfortable with the drug, even hide it as well as he should. Well, the next day Larry went to coach’s house.
He rang the doorbell coach answered and he said, coach, I need to talk to you. Dale said, sure, come on in Larry confessed. He purged his sins to coach. He told him how embarrassed he was and how he had lost his way in the midst of all this fame and fortune. And towards the end of an hour, Larry who was in tears years, he asked coach, he said, coach, what do you w what do you think I should do?
Coach? Just being a man of few words, just looked at him and call him. Me said, Larry, I have never had any trouble turning the page in the book of my life. Larry. He got sober that day and he’s been sober for the last 40 years. You ever get in a rut. You know what I’m talking about? You get the funk. It stuck on the merry-go-round of a bad habit I have, but we’re going to make mistakes. You got to own them. Then you gotta make amend. And then you gotta move on guilt and regret kills many a man before their time. So turn the page, get off the ride. You are the author of the book of your life. Turn that page.
Give your obstacles credit. No, those a, um, no fear. T-shirts that were out. I don’t know if he used to wear them 10 years ago. No fear. You may remember. Those are just me. I saw them everywhere. All right. I don’t get them. And I never did. I mean, I tried to scare myself at least once a day. I mean, I get butterflies every morning before I go to work. I was nervous before I got here to speak tonight. I think fear is a good thing. Now. Why? Because it increases our need to overcome that fear. All right. So say your obstacle is fear of rejection. All right. You want to ask her out or you want to ask him out, but you fear that he or she may say no. All right, you, you, you want to ask your boss for that promotion, but you’re scared.
He’s going to think you’re overstepping your bounds. Well, instead of denying those fears, declare them, say the fear out loud, admit it, give them the credit they deserve. Don’t get all macho and act like they’re no big deal and don’t get paralyzed by denying that they exist and therefore abandoning your need, overcome them.
I mean, I’d even subscribe to the belief that we’re all destined to have to do the thing that we fear the most anyway, at some point. So give your obstacles credit, and you will wan find the courage to overcome them. Or you will to see more clearly that they’re not really worth prevailing over. So be brave, have courage. And when you do, you get stronger, you get more aware, you get more respectful of yourself and that which you fear.
– Matthew McConaughey
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