The other day I read the answer to a question about the actor Dwayne Johnson on Quora and concluded that the answer applies in the real world and to a lot of employees.
Question: “Why does Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson get offered so many movies?”
Answer: The answers varied but the main explanations are:
- He has a reputation for showing up at every shoot on time and sober.
- He gets along with every director he works with.
- He happily hits the talk show circuit to promote all his movies.
- He’s the hardest-working actor in Hollywood.
- He’s not a great actor, but he’s competent, he’s physically capable of pulling off action roles,
- He’s polite and friendly to everyone: cast members, the press and fans.
- He has an attitude of gratitude and is grateful for his success.
- He knows his lines and is always reliable. If a director asks him to do 10 takes of the same scene, he does it willingly.
- He delivers for the studios with movies that make money. A lot of money.
Not all of these attributes apply to everyone at work, of course. Most of us don’t go out on a promotional tour that includes working the talk-show circuit. We also don’t have to worry about doing our own stunt work. But we can relate to the main themes in our jobs and in our lives.
Dwayne Johnson’s Six Themes for Living and Working
Woody Allen once said that “80 percent of success is showing up.” I would amend that to showing up on time or, better yet, early. Being on time means that you consider the event serious and important. Also, you respect and value everyone’s time.
Showing up early says that you are prepared and ready to go. Being early allows you to deal with unanticipated difficulties, distractions, or technical problems. And if you leave enough time to get where you’re going, you don’t arrive frazzled by bad traffic, transit delays or a wardrobe malfunction. You’re a pro and it shows.
2. Hard Work:
Dwayne Johnson has been called the hardest-working man in Hollywood. He makes a lot of movies and has become the third highest-paid actor in the business. He also stars in movies that require a lot of physical activity. Then he goes out on the talk-show circuit to promote them.
Putting in the work—not just hours in the office—means learning all the facts, doing the research, assembling your arguments, preparing a detailed presentation, crunching the numbers—whatever it takes. This may happen on the job or at home but it needs to be done. If you try to skate on the work, it will eventually become apparent to everyone around you, including your boss.
This becomes a particular problem if you’re part of a team but you’re not holding up your end. Everyone else has to work harder and maybe even cover for you. That won’t buy you many friends.
What good is an employee on whom you can’t depend? A staff member who shows up for work late, who doesn’t deliver his project by the due date, who has no original ideas and steals from those around her, who vanishes from the office for hours, who dithers for weeks and then claims he didn’t have enough time, who shows up for meetings unprepared. A worker who argues, complains, and makes life difficult for everyone. Someone who is unreliable is an ongoing problem that no one wants to deal with.
Most of us don’t get as many second chances as Robert Downey, Jr. Nothing will get you fired faster than being unreliable and creating problems for your boss. Straighten up and fly right. You will make everyone’s life easier, including your own.
4. Courtesy and Kindness:
No one likes a diva. Divas may be applauded, celebrated, idolized, and revered but people don’t like being around them. Really. Being a diva means that you set yourself up over everyone else and consider your exalted needs more important than those of the ordinary folks around you. It’s BS and it often comes back to bite you in the butt.
To see this in action, watch Bohemian Rhapsody. There are several scenes of the rock group Queen’s musicians and the group’s manager waiting around for Freddy Mercury to show up and they’re not happy about it. Mercury was a genius but also a diva. He called Queen his family but he didn’t respect the other members enough to stop wasting their time. Eventually, they started without him.
Kindness can be a tough sell in a business world that worships fads like “lean and mean” operations. It’s even worse in companies that have a CEO somewhere on the sociopathy spectrum who thinks that kindness equals weakness.
The truth is that the common courtesies we teach our children as toddlers work even better in the office, the factory, the construction project, the newsroom, or the White House. They keep operations running smoothly and teams working together efficiently. They prevent problems that would otherwise take a manager’s time. Karma may be a bitch but she loves you when you treat those around you like valued human beings.
How often do you see negative expressions in our culture? A tee shirt that reads “Life sucks” or a Facebook post that states, “Life is just one big sh*t show” says that person finds only the negative in his or her life. Even in the midst of bad stuff happening, however, most of us have at least 10 things to be grateful for that many others around the world would envy:
- Can you walk, breathe, see, hear? Can you think with a clear mind?
- Do you have a place to live that’s safe, dry, and warm?
- Will you have enough to eat today and can you count on eating three meals again tomorrow?
- Did you get an education that went beyond simple reading and writing?
- Can you turn to friends and family for love and support?
- Are you living in a war zone and need to flee your home and your country?
- Can you get clean, potable water by turning on a tap or do you have to walk miles to find it?
- Do you have a means of transportation that will get you where you need to go?
- Can you find healthcare if you or your family need it?
- Do you have someone you can share your life with, even if it’s a dog?
See? That wasn’t so difficult, was it? Now quit your whining and be grateful. More will come to you through a positive attitude than a negative one.
Mr.. Johnson is generous with his time, talking to kids on the set and letting them hang out. He works with the Make A Wish Foundation that fulfills the dream of children with a fatal disease. He stops to take pictures with fans.
Similar opportunities occur in the work world — every day. You can donate to a company-sponsored charity or start one up. You can take time to help a new employee learn the ropes. You can mentor a young person in the company culture and how to conduct oneself in the adult world. You can tutor a new hire on how to operate machinery, handle the corporate hierarchy, or create a spreadsheet. Just pick your head up from your own problems or challenges and look around. You’ll find ways to be generous all around you.
Now I can hear you say, “Oh, sure. It’s easy for Dwayne Johnson to be grateful and generous and kind. He’s rich and famous. And nobody messes with The Rock.” Well, he wasn’t always any of those things and he’s had lots of setbacks in his life. He could easily have let those setbacks take over his life. But his attitude went a long way toward making the difference. As he says,
“Success isn’t always about ‘Greatness’, it’s about consistency. Consistent, hard work gains success. Greatness will come.”
Dwayne Johnson’s six approaches to success at work don’t just apply to celebrities or even men of very impressive size. They apply across the board. If you find this improbable, I challenge you to pick just one and try it out. Experience the results for yourself. Then select another one. You’ll be glad you did.