7 Things I Learned From Sean Connery

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7 Things I Learned From Sean Connery

Black Belt Leadership
7 Things I Learned From Sean Connery
By: John Terry - The Black Belt Leader

"My name is Bond, James Bond." The consummate secret agent, spy, and lady's man, James Bond was the epitome of what every boy dreamed of becoming - the stealthy secret agent on a secret mission to save the unsuspecting world from imminent disaster. James Bond's suave, sophisticated, debonnaire always made him the target of his enemies, and an alluring magnet to some of the most beautiful women in the world.

Sean Connery was the personification of this bigger than life character and set the bar high for future actors who played the role in subsequent decades. Born Thomas Sean Connery, this well-known actor started out in humble beginnings, living in a tenement. His first job as a young boy was delivering milk in Edinburgh.

At the age of 16, Connery joined the Royal Navy where he served for 3 years before receiving a medical discharge for an ulcer. After bouncing around several jobs, including being an artist's model (where he was described as a virtual Adonis), Connery decided to work on himself.
Connery began bodybuilding, later earning a 3rd place finish in the Mr. Universe competition and gained a reputation as a "hard man" after single-handedly taking on, and defeating, several gang members of one of the toughest gangs in Scotland. He was also an avid soccer player and turned down an offer from East Fife, a semi-professional soccer team.

To supplement his income, he started working backstage at King's Theatre and later earned a featured role on stage, ultimately leading to a role in a TV series. Other roles TV and movie roles followed. But his BIG break came in 1962 when he took to the Big Screen as British secret agent, James Bond, in "Dr. No".

Connery went on to reprise the role of Super Sleuth in the next four Bond sequels, then reappeared in two additional Bond films in 1971 and 1983. All seven of his films were so successful, James Bond (as played by Connery) was selected as the third-greatest hero in cinema history by the American Film Institute.

Not willing to settle for the success of the moment, Connery continued to develop himself, stretching what he was capable of doing and becoming to land a number of starring roles in film. He appeared in a number of roles, and perhaps one of his finest was the 1987 classic, "The Untouchables" which earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Others argue his best performance was his role as the Russian submarine captain seeking to defect to the West in the cat-and-mouse Tom Clancy thriller, "The Hunt for Red October".

Connery didn't allow age or prior success to hold him back, or pigeon-hole him into a stereotype. He continued throughout his career to reinvent himself, to become a better version of himself, and not to be complacent with his last, greatest success on the Big Screen. "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", "First Knight", "The Rock" (one of my personal favorites), "Entrapment", "The Avengers", and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" all allowed Connery to continue to flex his ability as an actor.

Connery voiced the character Draco the Dragon in the film "Dragonheart" and made a cameo appearance as King Richard the Lionheart in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves". He later lent his voice and likeness to the video game "From Russia With Love" for Electronic Arts, to reprise the role of James Bond one last time.

Not one to accept every single offer, Connery turned down the role of Gandalph in "The Lord of the Rings" as well as an offer to appear as the Architect in "The Matrix".

Connery was ranked 8th in the 100 Greatest Movie Stars in a 2003 UK Poll and received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 where he confirmed his retirement from acting. He died in his sleep on October 30 at his retirement home in Nassau, Bahamas after suffering from dementia for the past few years.

So what did I learn from Sean Connery?

  1. Just because you come from humble beginnings doesn't mean you can't make something substantial out of your life. Opportunity knows no ethnic, racial, or social class. Connery came from a poor family, yet he refused to let his present circumstances put a limit on what he was capable of becoming. Life and opportunity are there, waiting to be seized by those who believe in themselves enough to pursue it with passion and tenacity.

  2. Just because you fail at one thing doesn't mean you're a failure. Despite receiving a medical discharge from the Navy, Connery refused to admit defeat. Rather, he went on a lifelong quest of personal growth and development that continued the remainder of his life. He never stopped learning, studying, growing, and stretching the limits of what he was capable of doing, and becoming.

  3. There is a difference between success and significance. Success is what happens to you. It is momentary, fleeting, and then it's gone. Significance is something that happens through you that makes an indelible impact on the lives of others. Success is something you look back on and remember, Significance is something you look toward in the future as you leave a lasting legacy that will inspire others to continue.

  4. Just because you're good at something doesn't mean you have to do it forever. Connery grew tired of the James Bond role and genuinely disliked the persona of James Bond following him throughout life. He outgrew the role, learned what lessons it could teach him to make him better, and moved on to what was next in his endless pursuit of becoming one of the best at his chosen trade.

  5. Just because you're getting older doesn't mean you can't continue to be relevant and make an impact. Some of Connery's most memorable roles as an actor were filmed later in his life. The lessons he had learned had seasoned him, making him a better version of himself, allowing him to take on new and greater challenges, and to prosper.

  6. It's OK to say NO. You don't have to take on every opportunity that presents itself. Connery turned down what could have been a lucrative role as Gandalph in "The Lord of the Rings" and the Architect in "The Matrix". While he could have simply taken the roles for the money, he chose not to take a role he either didn't understand or wasn't something he was interested in playing as an actor.

  7. Life is a Journey, Not a Destination. Destination-disease is the death of a leader. Personal growth is a journey, not a destination.  If you're spending today remembering the successes of yesterday, you're no longer growing. You're no moving forward. Connery didn't live life looking in the rear-view mirror. He kept his sights on what was before him, not behind him. He kept growing, maturing, getting better.

Rest in peace, Sean Connery. Thank you for the lessons you've taught me, and the lives you've inspired as a result of living a life of personal growth and development. May we, like you, not settle for today's success but continue to become a better version of ourselves every single day so we can keep improving, stretching the boundaries of what's possible, and living a life of significance.

Thank you for leading, for influencing, for making a difference.

Thank you for being a Black Belt Leader in Life.

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