Book Summaries

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey.

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Common sense is like money and health, once you have it, you have to work to keep it.

Academy Award-winning actor, Matthew McConaughey takes the reader on a journey of his life – lessons learned, raucous stories, outlaw wisdom, prescriptions, and a playbook based on adventures in McConaughey’s life.

Stepping on Shit

 I’m not perfect; no, I step in shit all the time and recognize it when I do. I’ve just learned how to scrape it off my boots and carry on.

We all step in shit from time to time. We hit roadblocks, we fuck up, we get fucked, we get sick, we don’t get what we want, we cross thousands of “could have done better”s and “wish that wouldn’t have happened”s in life. Stepping in shit is inevitable, so let’s either see it as good luck, or figure out how to do it less often.


Greenlights mean go—advance, carry on, continue. On the road, they are set up to give the flow of traffic the right of way, and when scheduled properly, more vehicles catch more greenlights in succession. They say proceed.

Navigating the autobahn of life in the best way possible is about getting relative with the inevitable at the right time. The inevitability of a situation is not relative; when we accept the outcome of a given situation as inevitable, then how we choose to deal with it is relative. We either persist and continue in our present pursuit of a desired result, pivot and take a new tack to get it, or concede altogether and tally one up for fate.

The problems we face today eventually turn into blessings in the rearview mirror of life. In time, yesterday’s red light leads us to a greenlight. All destruction eventually leads to construction, all death eventually leads to birth, all pain eventually leads to pleasure. In this life or the next, what goes down will come up.

Words are momentary, Intent is Momentous.

A denied expectation hurts more than a denied hope, while a fulfilled hope makes us happier than a fulfilled expectation. Hope’s got a higher return on happiness and less debit on denial, it’s just not as measurable.

“Knowin the truth, seein the truth, and tellin the truth, are all different experiences.”

Process of elimination and identity

The first step that leads to our identity in life is usually not I know who I am, but rather I know who I’m not. Process of elimination.

Too many options can make a tyrant out of any of us, so we should get rid of the excess in our lives that keep us from being more of ourselves. When we decrease the options that don’t feed us, we eventually, almost accidentally, have more options in front of us that do.

Knowing who we are is hard. Eliminate who we’re not first, and we’ll find ourselves where we need to be.

less impressed,more involved.”

The sooner we become less impressed with our life, our accomplishments, our career, our relationships, the prospects in front of us—the sooner we become less impressed and more involved with these things—the sooner we get better at them. We must be more than just happy to be here.

A Roof is a man-made thing

Don’t create imaginary constraints. A leading role, a blue ribbon, a winning score, a great idea, the love of our life, euphoric bliss, who are we to think we don’t deserve these fortunes when they are in our grasp? Who are we to think we haven’t earned them?

If we stay in process, within ourselves, in the joy of the doing, we will never choke at the finishline. Why? Because we aren’t thinking of the finish line, we’re not looking at the clock, we’re not watching ourselves on the Jumbotron performing. We are performing in real time, where the approach is the destination, and there is no goal line because we are never finished.

The greatest snipers and marksmen in the world don’t aim at the target, they aim on the other side of it. When we truly latch on to the fact that we are going to die at some point in time, we have more presence in this one.

Reach beyond your grasp, have immortal finish lines, and turn your red light green, because a roof is a man-made thing.

Turn the page.

You ever get in a rut? Stuck on the merry-go-round of a bad habit? I have. We are going to make mistakes — own them, make amends, and move on. Guilt and regret kill many a man before their time. Get off the ride. You are the author of the book of your life. Turn the page.

The Arrow doesn’t seek the target, the target draws the arrow

We must be aware of what we attract in life because it is no accident or coincidence. The spider waits in his web for dinner to come. Yes, we must chase what we want, seek it out, cast our lines in the water, but sometimes we don’t need to make things happen. Our souls are infinitely magnetic.

It’s not a risk unless you can lose the fight.

Be Brave: Take the Hill

When facing any crisis, from Hurricane Katrina to a family emergency, to the profound choices we have to make in life, I’ve found that a good plan is to first recognize the problem, then stabilize the situation, organize the response, then respond.

time and truth.

Two constants you can rely on. One shows up for the first time every time while the other never leaves.

There’s a difference between art and self-expression. All art is self-expression. All self-expression is not art.

Life is our résumé. It is our story to tell, and the choices we make write the chapters. Can we live in a way where we look forward to looking back? Inevitably, we are going to die. Our eulogy, our story, will be told by others and forever introduce us when we are gone.

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist | Marathoner | Bibliophile

Write A Comment