Friday, August 31, 2007

Owen Wilson Needed a Motivational Strategy

Owen Wilson seemed to have it all. He gained international fame through his roles in hit movies, including Zoolander, Shanghai Noon, Wedding Crashers, and You, Me, and Dupree, with the latter one paying him a $20 million salary.

Owen was athletic, playing high school and college football--which gave him his twisted nose, after thirteen breaks.

Wealth, health, fame, dating famous women like Demi Moore, Sheryl Crow, and Kate Hudson--a great life, don't you think?

Looks like Owen Wilson didn't think so. On August 26, he attempted suicide. The news leaked out, and police confirmed the incident.

What went wrong? Some said his breakup with Kate Hudson caused his plunge into despair, depression, and disgust with life.

Yet I offer another explanation. Although Owen Wilson had the things that most of the world envies, he lacked something essential. He did not have a strategy for staying motivated when life brings unexpected and undesirable challenges.

Ernest Hemingway, for all his success as a novelist, didn't have that strategy either, and shot himself.

More positively, Christopher Reeve had a strategy for living triumphantly for nine years after his riding accident that paralyzed his body. . .but not his spirit. Amazingly, the second book he wrote carried the title Nothing is Impossible.

When I talk about motivation in my speeches and seminars, I help listeners establish their personal strategies for "staying in high gear" when life becomes tough.

First, I tell them about what other people do to remain upbeat. Example: An audience member told me she keeps a file labeled "I like me." In it, she puts nice notes or E-mails people have sent her. And when her life or career hit a stumbling block, she turns to that file and reads those compliments. Every time, she concludes, "Well, if all these people like me, I might as well like myself."

Second, I share my own favorite method for keeping my chin up. It's this: Every morning when I step out of bed, I imagine that I am stepping into an elevator. I have a choice. There are two buttons there, one marked Up, the other marked Down. Experience has shown me that if I punch the Down button, my day will--invariably--be lousy. On the other hand, when I push the Up button, and eat breakfast with a smile on my face, magical things happen. People return my phone calls, I find cheer surrounding me, and I accomplish plenty.

Third, I have audience members share their ways of getting through tough times. Often the discussion becomes highly inspirational. One person said, "When you wake up, notice that you have just experienced the greatest miracle of all. You have had a full day given to you. What you do with it us up to you. Just be grateful for the opportunity."

So, Owen Wilson, I wish you had been able to establish a system to help you through those times when you get bad reviews, romance fails, friendships shatter, health deteriorates, or someone else gets the award you think you deserved.

What about you? Can you be sure you will get where you want to be, in spite of big-time detours along the way?

Personally, I value life immensely, even though plenty has gone wrong for me:
*Almost died at age eight from a freakish infection that made medical history
*Fifteen surgeries as an adult
*Lost a prestigious job without any warning--one I thought I had for life
*Watched my mother suffer three years as an immobile stroke victim, until her death
*Almost didn't graduate from high school on time because of my chemistry course
*Became grossly overweight and lazy during my thirties

Erma Bombeck was right. The other man's grass might look greener, but it could be that's because it's over the septic tank. All of us have bad times, even horrendous times.

That's why I love to share my thoughts about pushing the Up button daily. I'm so eager to help you establish your personal agenda for "optimizing your optimism" that I have put my best advice, and the advice of those I admire, in an audio CD. The title: "Maintaining Maximum Motivation: Strategies for Staying in High Gear!" Please go to to my Web site and read what others say about this CD, then order your copy:

Listening to this CD--repeatedly--could be the best investment of time and resources you will ever make. Soon you will be able to say with Christopher Reeve, "I have my down days, but I haven't been incapacitated by them."


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