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Want to improve your mindset? This edition of the Numberwise book club series: Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey, could help. It’s an inspiring, funny, and touching self-help guide. Our accounting manager, Stephanie, discusses her book choice below. 

Book Club: Greenlights

“We are all made for every moment we encounter. Whether the moment makes us or we make the moment. Whether we are helpless in it or on top of it, the predator or the prey. We are made for that moment.”

Greenlights is a hilarious yet moving autobiography. McConaughey calls it “a love letter to life.” I chose this book because a woman in a similar life and career situation as mine raved about it. I figured I would benefit from it as well, and I did.  

Greenlights is about the opportunities in our lives and how we choose to see them. It starts out with McConaughey’s journey as a young man and the goals he sets for himself. He discusses catching “greenlights” as he refers to them, and realizing that the yellow and red lights eventually turn green. 

On reflecting on this book, I see similarities to my previous book club pick You Are a Badass – How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. They both highlight how fears hold us back from many opportunities in life.

McConaughey certainly takes more risks than most people – riding motorcycles through Europe for a month with his buddies, floating down the Amazon river, and an African adventure. But each one of these risks had rewards. 

The actor’s risks and adventures changed his mindset. When McConaughey returned from his month of motorcycle riding through Europe, he did so with a mindset that he no longer needed movie roles, he wanted movie roles. This new perspective opened up new opportunities.

“Sometimes we have to leave what we know to find out what we know.”

McConaughey also discusses his decision to accept roles that were challenging to him as opposed to the romantic comedy roles that he was previously cast in. He wanted to find more meaning in his career.  

The actor passed up his typical roles for two years, to the point where it was starting to take a toll on him. However, he was steadfast in what he wanted. His patience proved to be worth it, when he finally started getting roles that provided meaning and truly challenged him.  

“My need for immediate personal accomplishment had me fighting against the temptation to do what I had always felt privileged to be able to do in the first place, while fighting for the necessity to have my art, my work, more resemble myself and my life.” 

Then came the role for Dallas Buyers Club. The actor had just finished filming Magic Mike, which had required getting in tip top physical shape. Weighing a healthy 182 pounds, how was he going to portray a stage 4 HIV character? 

McConaughey rose to the challenge. By the time filming started, he was down to a scrawny 135 pounds. He read Ron’s diaries, met with his family, and listened to over 10 hours of audio recordings. He had a clear understanding of who Ron Woodroof was.

“Inevitably, we are going to die. Our eulogy, our story, will be told by others and forever introduce us when we are gone. The Soul Objective. Begin with the end in mind. What’s your Story?”

McConaughey stresses the importance of survival. Survival in terms of overcoming difficult times in life. If we experience challenges, we will inevitably learn something from it or become stronger because of the experience. Those “red lights” at the time will lead to a future “greenlight”.

If you’ve read this book too, we’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave us a comment below.

More from the Numberwise Book Club:

Book Club: Getting Things Done

Book Club: A World Without Email

Book Club: Start with Why

Book Club: You Are a Badass – How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness

About the Author

Picture of Stephanie Lorntzen

Stephanie Lorntzen

Stephanie Lorntzen is a CPA who has worked for both large accounting firms and small businesses. Her background is in auditing, financial analysis, and financial reporting. For Numberwise, she helps business owners by answering all their questions about where their money is going.
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