Three Things A Leader Can Learn from Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson

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The life story of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is inspiring. Coming from nothing, he went from playing college football at the University of Miami, to being the premier wrestler for World Wrestling Entertainment, to becoming the highest-grossing actor of 2013. In a recent Fortune article, Dwayne discussed how he’s accomplished these impressive feats. For those of us looking for ways to grow, three lessons are clear.

#1 Emulate yourself after those you admire

Much of Dwayne’s success comes from his physical presence. At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds of pure muscle, Dwayne is built like Hercules, who he happened to play this past summer. This was not always the case. Dwayne was motivated after he and his mother were evicted from their apartment:

I remember saying to myself, ‘I will do anything and everything I possibly can to make sure we never get evicted again.’ But what does that mean—what does it mean to be successful? Well, the successful men I admired all built their bodies.

Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger served as Dwayne’s archetype for success. Because of them, he began boxing and lifting weights after school. This led to football, which led to everything else. We all envision different people when considering what it means to be a success. Once you pinpoint the aspects of their personality, achievement, traits, etc. that catch your attention, start mimicking them. Once you’ve done it for a while, make it your own.

#2 Promote yourself

Humbleness is nice…to a point. There comes a time when we cannot rely on others to notice how great we are. Dwayne is constantly promoting his work and himself to his 56 million social media followers. He shares video clips, pictures, and everyday musings. Producer Toby Emmerich has said that this is a big part of Dwayne’s success:

I’ve been in meetings where certain actors’ names come up and there’s a hesitation to cast them, because they don’t ‘work for the movie’…Given the choice of two actors equally right for the part, the studio places the value on someone who will go out and tease the film.

Self-promotion is not bragging; it’s about providing a personal connection so others can relate to you and understand your mindset. It also gives you a platform to control your image. When everything’s great, you can let others know. When you make a mistake, you can disarm attackers with self-deprecation or take preemptive measures.

#3 Nothing can replace hard work

Dwayne’s career didn’t happen by accident. Sure, when he was playing high school football, he probably didn’t expect to be one of the most successful leading men by the time he was 40 years old. However, Dwayne always knew his next step and pushed himself to get there. According to Director Brett Ratner,

I always used to say the most committed actor I ever worked with was Jackie Chan, but Dwayne—this guy has worked out and eaten twice before he gets to the set.

If you’ve heard the Walt Disney quote, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” there’s a step missing. What we forget is “If you can dream it, you can do it, as long as you are willing to put in the extra effort.” We cannot wish our way to success. Work through the fatigue, self-doubt, and distractions. Focus on your goal and go to bed every night knowing you did something today to get you closer to accomplishing it.

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