March 5th Newsletter- Don’t Forget To Give Credit

Most of us really appreciate receiving credit for something we did. 

But how well do we give credit? I was watching a speech recently by actor Matthew McConaughey, who has played roles in movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street, Failure to Launch, Magic Mike, and many more. 

The speech was from The Oscars, when McConaughey won for best actor for his performance in the film Dallas Buyers Club. Even though I’ve never seen the movie- and it’s quite possible that I haven’t seen a movie with McConaughey in it- I somehow found this clip a few years back. It’s not often that an award acceptance speech draws my attention, but this one did it. 

He tells the crowd at the Oscars that there are three things that he needs every day. McConaughey says he needs something to look up to, something to look forward to, and he needs someone to chase. It’s the type of speech that can force you to think more about yourself than of him while you are listening, which I believe was the goal. 

When he discussed someone to look up to, he mentioned God for giving him opportunities that he wasn’t responsible for, and he mentioned how he was shown that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. I heard this speech for the first time about five years ago, and that line sent me on a path to study gratitude deeper. When he discussed what he looked forward to, McConaughey smoothly credited his dad, who has passed, for showing him how to be a man. He thanked him mom for demanding that him and his brothers respect themselves, and because of that, they were more prepared to respect others. And he got choked up as he thanked his wife and kids, and the line he used, “You are the four people that I want to make most proud of me,” inspired my thank you to my wife and kids inside of Freelance to Freedom. 

And then he mentions his hero. The person that he chases. 

And this is where I love the speech, but it drives me crazy as well.McConaughey says that when he was a fifteen-year-old, he had a very important person in his life ask him who his hero was. He asked for a little time to think about it. This same person came back a few weeks later and asked who his hero was again. This time, he was ready with his answer. 

“It’s me in ten years,” McConaughey said. 

Ten years later, he explained that this same person asked him if he was his hero. 

“Not even close,” McConaughey exclaimed. This person asked why. 

He said because his hero is him at thirty five. 

He realized that every day that goes by, he is doing what he has to do to get better to become his hero, but he will never catch it. He’ll never be there. And he accepts that because it gives him someone to chase. 

I loved the message, and I have followed that advice. But something bugged me about it. So I watched it again. And the third time I watched, I finally figured out what was bothering me. 

Although he gave credit to his dad, his mom, his family, and many others in the speech, the oversight of mentioning the name of the person that gave him the ‘hero’ advice- the cornerstone of the speech- annoyed me. It made me think of something that so many of us often overlook. 

Giving proper credit. 

It’s something that I’ve paid close attention to after having this realization. I came to see that I wasn’t just annoyed at McConaughey, I was annoyed at myself. Because I often did the same thing. I would mention an idea from a book but not mention the source. I would speak of advice someone gave me, but not mention their name. I realized that this needed to be improved, changed and eliminated. 

When we don’t give credit, we are robbing the people who helped us to gain attention, respect and notoriety. Not only that, but we make the story about us, not them. Now it’s entirely possible that this person told McConaughey to not mention their name in the speech. I don’t know the full back story. But I write this because I’ve seen it so many times and in so many ways. 

Giving credit is a vital aspect of what we all do. We crave receiving it. But giving credit actually makes you get recognized more. That’s because we recognize those who recognize others. It shows that you value honesty and generosity, and those are attractive traits. 

Can you remember a time when someone took credit for something you created? If so, how did you feel? Conversely, is there a time when you should have given credit when you didn’t? 

One final question- who can you give credit to today?

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