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Leadership Lessons From Matthew McConaughey's Oscars Speech

McConaughey, who won the best actor award on Sunday for his role in Dallas Buyer's Club, says you need someone to look up to, something to look forward to, and a hero to chase.
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The Academy Awards, celebrating the best films and performances of the year, is not the first place you'd think to find leadership lessons. But last night Matthew McConaughey, who won the best actor Oscar for his role as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyer's Club, explained during his acceptance speech how he stays humble and driven.

"There's three things, to my account, that I need each day: One of them is something to look up to, another is something to look forward to, and another is someone to chase," McConaughey said.

McConaughey said he looks up to God, and thanked God for teaching him gratitude. Next he thanked those in his life he looks forward to being with--his late father who taught him "how to be a man;" his mother, who taught him how to respect himself and others; and his wife and children for giving him courage.

But perhaps the most important part of your success as a leader is your motivation--that single factor that drives you to keep going, to be successful, to be a better version of yourself. 

"To my hero, that's who I chase. When I was 15 years old, I had an important person in my life come to me and say, 'Who is your hero?' And I said, 'I don't know. I gotta think about that. Give me a couple weeks.' I come back two weeks later and this person comes up, 'Who's your hero?' I said, 'I thought about it, you know who it is? It's me in 10 years,'" McConaughey said. "So I turn 25, 10 years later, and that same person comes to me and says, 'So, are you a hero?' And I say, 'Not even close. No, no, no. My hero is me at 35.'"

McConaughey next offered further explanation of how his hero is his future self: "You see every day, every week, every year of my life my hero is always 10 years away. I'm never gonna be my hero, I'll never attain that. I know I'm not and that's just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing," he said. "So, to any of us, whatever those things are, whatever it is we look up to, whatever it is we look forward to, and whoever it is we're chasing, to that I say 'Amen.' To that I say, 'Alright, alright, alright.' And to that I say 'Just keep living.'"

Fittingly, McConaughey won his Oscar for portraying Ron Woodroof, a Texas man who after being diagnosed with AIDS in 1985 began selling medications illegally to help others with the disease. The true story of Woodroof's entrepreneurial spirit can certainly teach founders a thing or two as well.  

So, who is your hero? Who do you keep chasing to make you a better leader? Let us know in the comments below. 

IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Mar 3, 2014

WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com

Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported in the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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