top of page

Career Lessons from Books: Define Success for yourself.

In the book, Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey describes a time in his life when he got tired of being the ultimate Hollywood heartthrob and a romantic comedy guy. The industry loved him, fans loved him and the offers were flowing in - but he was tired of playing the same old roles and wanted something more challenging. But no one was keen on offering him different roles, they preferred that he stick to what "he was good at", what was guaranteed to make him (and everyone) else money $$$.

So he decided to take action!

He stopped accepting any roles that did not align with the future he envisioned for himself (this cost him lots of money). This led to one year of saying no to roles offered to him and then another year of no longer being offered any roles at all. In the meantime, he put all his energy into rebranding himself.

"For twenty months I did not give the public or the industry any more of what they had banked on me to give them. No more of what they expected or even assumed to know. For twenty months I removed myself from the public eye". After two years of not being active in the industry, he succeeded in his mission. "The anonymity and unfamiliarity had bred creativity" he says.

I was reminded of this when recently watching a YouTube video of a prominent South African business leader describing how he, at the age of 31, sold all he had and went back to school full time to study for an MBA (leaving his wife and kids back home) in order to change from a career in academia to a career in banking. It also reminds me of my mother, who at 26 was widowed with two kids working in an administrative role in bank, and decided to go back to school full-time (for 6 years) to pursue an LLB degree.

In these stories, I have derived the following takeaways on how to pursue success for yourself and to build a life that is meaningful to you:

1. Define success: Sit with yourself and reflect honestly on what you really want out of your career and your life.

2. Plan: Develop a plan and a roadmap to go from where you are to where you want to be.

3. Count the cost: Be realistic about what it's going to take to get there, and analyse what you'll have to change in your life to make space for your plan. Decide whether you're willing to pay the prize of getting there.

4. Get out of your comfort zone: Be willing to be comfortable with being uncomfortable as you let go of what is familiar to pursue what may feel scary.

5. Take action and Commit: Implement your plan and commit to it until you achieve it. Be completely decisive and don't be discouraged by what you have to miss out on while focused on your goals.

What other lessons can you share from your own journey?



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a passionate leader, accomplished professional and a mentor. I believe that nation-building depends on how well we build people. Therefore, my mission is to contribute to the personal, professional and leadership development of people to empower them to reach their highest potential.

I do this through a mentorship program that I founded and through this blog where I share principles I've applied and insights I've gained in the past twelve years of my career and leadership journey.

Let the posts
come to you.

Thanks for submitting!

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
bottom of page