I was sad to hear the news that James Garner had passed away over the weekend. Some of my first memories of evening television with my parents in our living room in Fort Worth are of watching The Rockford Files. And later through Saturday reruns I got to know his character of Bret Maverick. I consider him one of my favorite actors and still love both of those shows when I get a chance to see them. They both were shows that poked fun of the conventional models of the Hollywood detective show and the Hollywood western respectively. Both characters were anti-heroes who rarely solved issues through violence, even though Maverick carried a gun. They both subtly poked fun at the cliches often common to these genres. They used their street smarts, wry wit and undercurrent of charm and at the end of the day they could always be counted on to do the right thing.
James Garner was a star that had roles a long side everyone from Henry Fonda, Clint Eastwood and Marlon Brando. He was great in both movies and television roles. Both series, Maverick and The Rockford Files ended with him quitting abruptly at the height of popularity and entering lawsuits against the film studios because he had been wronged and cheated. He won both. He was a two time purple heart recipient during the Korean War and former oilfield roughneck from Norman, OK. But the greatest thing he accomplished in life was meeting and marring Lois Clark in 1956. They met at a presidential rally and married 14 days later on August 17, 1956. “We went to dinner every night for 14 nights. I was just absolutely nuts about her. I spent $77 on our honeymoon, and it about broke me.” According to Garner, “Marriage is like the Army; everyone complains, but you’d be surprised at the large number of people who re-enlist.” They remained married until his death this past Saturday due to natural causes.
Despite his star status, Garner was never enamored with being in Hollywood’s limelight. “I got into the business to put a roof over my head,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for star status. I just wanted to keep working.” He said “I’m a Spencer Tracy-type actor. His idea was to be on time, know your words, hit your marks and tell the truth.”
If that isn’t applicable for life and work (not just acting) then I don’t know what is.
Be on time.
Punctuality, being on time, I think may just be the number one over looked attribute in life. No one, and I mean no one, has ever been looked down on, talked bad about or thought less of for being on time.
Know your words.
In whatever line of work do you know your stuff. Are you an expert in your field? Do you strive to become more and more knowledgeable every day? Know your words! Know the job and what it requires and get it done. I purposed a long time ago to be a lifelong learner. Admittedly I go through seasons in life where I read much less than I would like, like during soccer season when I coach my 7yr old’s soccer team (Go Gladiators!). What are you responsible for and what are doing to know your stuff.
Hit your marks.
What are you goals? Do you set goals that are track-able? How do you know what your mark is and when you’ve hit it? Here are Presco we set goals, called WIGs (Wildly Important Goals). A concept we’ve learned from Franklin Covey and The Four Disciplines of Execution. We track our progress towards our goals using Lead and Lag measures. For instance saying you have a goal of losing weight is a lead measure but it hard to track until you have made significant progress. So you track the lag measures that are easy to follow such as Lag Measure 1 – count your daily calorie intake; Lag Measure 2 – count calories burned during exercise.
Tell the truth.
Honesty really is the best policy.