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Matthew McConaughey Wins Oscar and uses this acting technique

Shakespeare’s profound words resonate truly: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Each of us plays different roles throughout the day — parent, friend, colleague, mentor, salesperson, boss, spouse and many more.

Given that we are actors in this play called life, would it not be advisable to see what a great actor does to prepare?

A case in point is one of my favorite actors, Matthew McConaughey. In the past, McConaughey usually played a romantic lead — he was fantastic in “The Wedding Planner” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”

In “Dallas Buyers Club”, , the emaciated McConaughey stars as AIDS patient Ron Woodroof, who smuggles unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas when he finds them effective at improving his symptoms. He then proceeds to sell these drugs to others with AIDS, all while fighting the FDA, which wants to shut him down. McConaughey definitely deserves the Oscar for this one.

Simple technique

When asked how he prepares for his parts he plays, McConaughey says he uses a behavioral trigger — he thumps his chest three times with his hand before every scene. This trigger gets him to the right emotional level, and given that acting is all about expressing emotions, such an action becomes vital.

When Leonardo DiCaprio saw him doing this on the set of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” DiCaprio suggested they add that trigger to the scene in which he is being mentored by McConaughey on the fine art of selling. On another level, this scene illustrates the importance of having some type of trigger to get you amped in your business life.

The principle of thumping your chest is based on the self-perception theory, which says that our actions greatly impact our emotions. When we thump our chest, this tells our body and mind to produce the emotional juice needed for the task at hand.

Do you have a trigger that gets you pumped up for each client?

Are you looking for more authentic energy throughout the day?

You need some type of behavioral trigger to get your mind and body ready for each event. Perhaps it could be as simple as tapping your thigh three times. When I was the mental coach for the Vanderbilt men’s tennis team, we had the players do that subtle action to increase their energy levels for every point.

Find a behavioral trigger that works for you. While you may never win an Oscar, the process will always make you into a better actor in whatever part you choose to play.

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a professor of human performance at Austin Peay State University. He is the author of the best-selling business book “Full Throttle” and speaks to businesses about improving attitude and performance. Learn more at

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About Gregg Steinberg

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a performance psychology expert, best selling author, and inspirational keynote speaker on the various topics relating to individual and team performance. Google+ Profile Get in touch with Dr. Gregg

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