The other day I read a great article in the magazine, Men’s Health by Mike Zimmerman. The article began like this:

“I figured it out in a white van heading west on I-10 halfway between Palm Springs and Los Angeles.  Matthew McConaughey was at the wheel. We’d been at Sinatra’s old house in Palm Springs all day. And if this sounds like one of those, ‘I had the weirdest dream last night’ scenarios, I’m not messing with you. The whole thing was for a Men’s Health cover shoot, and I was doing the interview portion on the road with him. Good talker, McConaughey. We rapped about topics across the board: achievement, friendship, integrity, the gender fraternity that is being male. Positive stuff. Now if you bring up any of those subjects– including McConaughey– as a sincere conversation piece, in a lot of rooms you’ll get snickers, eye rolls, and those disbelieving sneers that say, ‘My God, you’re serious.’ And on an even deeper level: ‘My God, you’re stupid.’ So in the middle of a positive and sincere conversation in that van, the epiphany hit me: There are no successful cynics. Think about it: Real success, any way society measures it– money, fame, happiness, family– cannot be achieved in the presence of cynicism. Why? McConaughey put it pretty well: ‘Cynics love to put their finger on disease before they put it on health. It’s the easy way to go. Play the blame game: ‘I got screwed, that should’ve been mine.’ They’re all dead-end answers. For me, ‘Just keep livin’,’ as a creed and a compass, is about making the evolving choice, the forward-moving, life-giving choice.’ If that quote made you wince, you probably have a healthy cynical streak. But I can say, as a guy lucky enough to interview upward of a hundred hyper-successful people– from billionaire CEOs and future Hall of Fame athletes to doctors and teachers you’ve never heard of– that if successful people have one common trait, it’s an utter lack of cynicism. The world owes them nothing. They go out and find what they need without asking for permission; they’re driven, talented, and work through negatives by focusing on the positives. Being stupid, it took me years to figure this out, and being deeply cynical since high school, the moment was a pie in the face– with a lead pie pan.”

Zimmerman goes on…

” Here’s the thing: Whatever you do, elite performance (which is the delivery vehicle for success) requires a sincere belief– in the cause, of course, but also in your own ability and the very system in which your performance happens. Cynicism cannot exist in the same space as sincere belief. Cynicism is not disbelief, but unbelief, a refusal.

That’s why cynicism is so dangerous to the average guy. If you lose that sincere belief– at your job, in your relationship, as a son or sibling or parent, anywhere– you’re worthless, no matter how talented you are.”

My favorite line is the manner in which he ends the article…

“Hell, I’ll bet you a 12-pack and a 2-hour bitch spiral that there are no cynical offensive linemen in the NFL.”

Offensive linemen are the unseen heroes of football teams. Just ask any quarterback or running back. Unless they do their job, with persistence and patience, people get hurt. An offensive lineman has to believe in what he does and that the people that matter know of his importance. Many professional offensive lines have an ongoing pot of cash which comes from the fines they each pay if their names run in the paper or on television. If they actually are quoted in either of these media sources, the fine goes up. At the end of the year, the money is taken and they decide what charity it goes to… or they have a party… whatever, its their money… The point is: they believe in what they do and the fundamental value of their effort, whether it is lauded or not. And that effort is an integral part of a successful football team.

Zimmerman’s article reminds me of the first part of Psalm 1:

” Oh, the joys of those who do not
      follow the advice of the wicked,
      or stand around with sinners,
      or join in with mockers.
  But they delight in the law of the Lord,
      meditating on it day and night.
 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
      bearing fruit each season.
   Their leaves never wither,
      and they prosper in all they do.”

The New International Version of the bible interprets the first verse like this:

“Blessed is the man
       who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
       or stand in the way of sinners
       or sit in the seat of mockers.”

I love the picture of this version because of the decreasing energy level:

the wicked walk…

sinners stand…

mockers sit…

Doesn’t that seem to be the way it is? The guy with the biggest mouth is the one sitting on his butt!

But the Believer:

What he does grows! Believers ” go out and find what they need without asking for permission…”  Believers develop an inward confidence in their cause and in themselves. Which comes first? The belief in the cause or the belief in themselves? Maybe they go hand in hand. At the base of all this is a foundation of trust, I think. A firm belief that God is calling them forward and isn’t stingy in his rewards.

I love how McConaughey points out how easy it is to point out what is wrong. Honestly, any idiot can see when something isn’t working… it’s the person who comes in and solves the problem, or helps the team solve the problem who brings the most value to the table. And people seem to naturally gravitate to their presence, because they believe, inspire belief…

 … and they bear fruit…


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