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What Everyone Could Learn From Leonardo DiCaprio

What Everyone Could Learn From Leonardo DiCaprio

A collective sigh of sympathy went out to Leonardo DiCaprio when he failed yet again to win an Oscar for The Wolf of Wall Street. I was shaking my head in empathy. Hang on. Did I say empathy? Yes, I was reacting to what I thought he must be feeling. Okay, it’s not  easy to put myself in his shoes, much less see the world through his eyes, but you know what I mean.

We’ve all experienced a painful loss — a job promotion, admission to a dream university, a much needed scholarship, a financial investment or a lasting relationship. The big difference is Leonardo DiCaprio’s losses make headlines.

He most probably is disappointed over his latest Oscar miss. But I bet he is already moving on to his next project in film, philanthropy or environmental activism.

Skeptical? Let his words throughout his career support my bet, and let’s pick up lessons along the way too.

“My mom, Irmelin, taught me the value of life.  Her own life was saved by my grandmother during World War II.”

DiCaprio grew up with his mother who remained friends with his father after the couple divorced when Leo was a toddler. Both parents shared in his upbringing and encouraged creativity. His mother was born in Germany, moved to the U.S. in the 1950s and worked as a legal secretary. DiCarpio remains close to his mom. She was his “date” at Oscar night.

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Leo knows about valuing life. Dwelling on loss would be a waste of precious time. 

“Brothers don’t necessarily have to say anything to each other — they can sit in a room and be together and just be completely comfortable with each other.”

An only child, DiCaprio has a close friendship with fellow actor Tobey McGuire, which began when they were auditioning for the same child actor roles in the 1980s. He also keeps a regular close group of friends.

Leo’s enduring friendship with a professional rival shows no grudges over missed roles or awards.  Friendships and relationships carry more weight than personal loss.

“Don’t think for a moment that I’m really like any of the characters I’ve played.  I’m not.  That’s why it’s called acting.”

DiCaprio’s portrayals of fictional and real life characters are not easily forgotten. Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Catch Me if You Can) and Danny Archer (Blood Diamond) are, to me, the most poignant. He chooses film projects not by genre but based on how interesting the character is.

Leo has no attachments to roles or awards. Devastation over a loss comes mostly from a perceived attachment. 

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 “I’m not the kind of person who tries to be cool or trendy, I’m definitely an individual.”

A maverick is how he is described. While other leading men get comfortable working for years in an action franchise, DiCaprio does not mind doing supporting roles and is not afraid to play hateful protagonists and villains. He knows what moves him and does not go with the crowd.

Leo will not allow the Oscars to define who he is. Self-awareness keeps you centered in who you are.

“Drugs?  Everyone has a choice and I choose not to do drugs.”

DiCaprio has had his share of drinking and partying in the 1990’s but states he has never done drugs. Seeing drugs at an early age and growing up poor helped him make the decision not to go in that direction.

Leo used a difficult situation to make a wise choice. Wisdom comes from awareness, courage and commitment to a decision.

“I just really love doing what I do. I know every career is fleeting and there will be time periods when I don’t get the opportunities that I’m getting right now, so I’m taking advantage of them.”

DiCaprio is also a film producer and has worked with respected directors James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.

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Leo understands the financial and creative aspects of the film industry. Losing an Oscar will not stop him from finding — or making — the next big opportunity. With purpose and ideas, a loss becomes irrelevant.

“I’m just starting to scratch the surface of what really makes me happy and it’s taken me a while to admit that acting like a little child and being a jerk and a punk is fun.”

These words may have come when DiCaprio was younger but it shows maturity — wanting to learn about himself, accepting his discoveries, and not taking himself too seriously. He has stayed connected with his parents and he has real friends to relax and act like a child with.

Leo has other pursuits beyond movie making, and losing an Oscar will not make a big dent in his life. Developing all areas of life enriches perspectives, making any loss purely incidental.

“You can either be a vain movie star, or you can try to shed some light on different aspects of the human condition.” (and) “Raising awareness on the most pressing environmental issues of our time is more important than ever.”

DiCaprio is among the first actors who has put fame to meaningful use by bringing public awareness to environmental and humanitarian concerns utilizing media projects, campaigns and grants. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation gave a US$3 million grant to Oceana, an advocacy group working for the world’s oceans.

Leo’s philanthropy and environmental activism seeks to positively affect large parts of the world population. Losing an Oscar is trivial. Being aware of a greater need makes you realize how much you actually have and cuts your disappointment down to size.

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What about his Oscar-losing streak?  Statistics-wise, a series of losses means he is close to winning.  But law of probabilities aside, the fact remains:  losing an Oscar is not an obstacle for Leonardo DiCaprio to continue living a highly successful and meaningful life.

So the next time you think “Poor Leo” (or the more common variation, “Poor Me”), think again.

Featured photo credit: Izzie August 344 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 7, 2018

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

Failure occurs everyday, in school, jobs, housework, and within families. It is unavoidable, irritating and causes pessimism.

While the thought of flinging your hands in the air and walking away is all too appealing, take a second to connect with the people who have been there and survived.

Here are 10 famous failures to success stories around the world that will inspire you to keep going and achieve greatness:

1. J.K. Rowling

J.K.-Rowling

    During a Harvard commencement speech, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outlined the importance and value of failure.[1]

    Why? Simply because she was once a failure too.

    A few short years after her graduation from college, her worst nightmares were realized. In her words,

    “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

    Coming out of this failure stronger and more determined was the key to her success.

    2. Steve Jobs

    steve-jobs-31

      The now revolutionary Apple started off with two men in a garage. Years later we all know it as a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees.

      Yet, almost unbelievably, Steve Jobs was fired from the very company he began.

      The dismissal made him realize that his passion for his work exceeded the disappointment of failure. Further ventures such as NeXT and Pixar eventually led Jobs back to the CEO position at AppleJobs said in 2005:

      “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

      Lost your job today? Keep kicking and you could be just like this guy!

      3. Bill Gates
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        Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout. He co-owned a business called Traf-O-Data, which was a true failure.[2]

        However, skill and a passion for computer programming turned this failure into the pioneer of famous software company Microsoft, and the then 31-year-old into the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

        In his own words:

        “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

        This isn’t to say that dropping out of Harvard will make you into a billionaire, but maybe that shiny degree isn’t worth as much as the drive and passion to succeed.

        4. Albert Einstein
        0

          The word ‘Einstein’ is associated with intelligence and synonymous with genius. Yet it is a famous fact that the pioneer of the theory of general relativity, Albert Einstein himself, could not speak fluently until the age of nine. His rebellious nature led to expulsion from school, and he was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

          His earlier setbacks did not stop him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. After all, he believed that:

          “Success is failure in progress.”

          To this day, his research has influenced various aspects of life including culture, religion, art, and even late night TV.

          Just because you haven’t achieved anything great yet, doesn’t mean you can’t be an Einstein yourself.

          5. Abraham Lincoln

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            Failing in business in 1831, suffering a nervous breakdown in 1836, defeated in his run for president in 1856, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to rejection and failure. Rather than taking these signs as a motivation for surrender, he refused to stop trying his best.

            In this great man’s words:

            “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

            Lincoln was elected in 1861 as the 16th President of the United States of America.

            The amount of rejection you receive is not a defining factor. Success is still within your reach.

            6. Michael Jordan

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              “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

              This quote by retired basketball legend Michael Jordan in a Nike advertisement speaks for itself.

              It would be an easy misconception that Jordan’s basketball skills revolve around natural talent. In fact, in his earlier years,  basketball coaches had trouble looking past the fact that Jordan didn’t reach the minimum height. It was years of effort, practice, and failure that made the star we know today.

              7. Steven Spielberg

              217307-steven-spielberg

                Regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, Steven Spielberg is a familiar household name. It is surprising to realize therefore that the genius behind Jaws and E.T. had poor grades in high school, getting him rejected from the University of Southern California three times.

                While he was in college, he caught the eye of executives at Universal, who signed him as a television director in 1969. This meant that he would not finish his college degree for another 33 years.

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                Perseverance and acceptance of failure is the key to success, after all.

                “Even though I get older, what I do never gets old, and that’s what I think keeps me hungry.”

                Bad grades in high school aside, there is no questioning the genius involved.

                To date, Spielberg has directed 51 films and has been awarded three Oscars.

                8. Walt Disney

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                  Mickey Mouse creator Walt Disney dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt at joining the army.[3] One of his earlier ventures, Laugh-o-Gram Studios, went bankrupt due to his lack of ability to run a successful business. He was once fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.”

                  Yet today, The genius behind Disney studios is responsible for generations of childhood memories and dreams. From Snow White to Frozen, Disney will continue to entertain the world for generations to come.

                  The logic behind this is simple:

                  “We don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

                  9. Vincent Van Gogh
                  vincent_van_gogh

                    During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh suffered mental illness, failed relationships, and committed suicide at the age of 37.

                    He only ever sold one painting in his life, pinning him a failure as an artist. However that did not put a damper on his enthusiasm and passion for art.

                    He would never know that years and years after his death he would become known as a key figure in the world of post-impressionism, and ultimately, one of the greatest artist that ever lived.

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                    He would never know that he became a hot topic in art classes and his image was going to be used in TV, books and other forms of popular culture.

                    In the words of this great, but tragic man:

                    “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

                    10. Stephen King

                    01-Stephen-King-Rags-to-Riches-Celebs-1

                      As a paranoid, troubled child, tormented by nightmares and raised in poverty, it is no surprise that Stephen King grew up to the title: “Master of Horror”.[4]

                      An addiction to drugs and alcohol were his mechanisms to cope with the unhappiness he felt with his life. The frustration he felt towards multiple rejections by publishers in combination with illicit substances caused him to mentally contemplate violence towards his own children.

                      These intense emotions were those that he focused onto his writing. And that’s why he said:

                      “We make up horros to help us cope with the real ones.”

                      Writing became his new coping mechanism, and this is how the master author we know today grew to success.

                      Fail more often in order to succeed

                      Like Albert Einstein said, failure really is just success in progress. If you’d rather not to fail, you will probably never succeed.

                      Success comes from moments of frustrations when you’ll be most uncomfortable with. But after you’ve gone through all those bitter times, you’ll become stronger and you’ll get closer to success.

                      Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, start failing, and start failing often; that’s how you will succeed.

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                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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