Career and Life Lessons on Being Cool, from the Coolest


When he was young, he was a boxer who fought 12 bouts. He said afterwards, “I won all but 11.”

Dean Martin (whose real name was Dino Crocetti) knew how to stay calm, cool and collected. Nothing seemed to phase the singer whose easy-going style and sense of humor was as famous as his singing and acting.

Today, in a world that is stressed-out and beaten down, we can learn the fine art of keeping it together despite life’s pressures, from Mr. Cool himself.

“Motivation is a lotta crap.”

Dean Martin didn’t believe people had to be motivated to do something. Instead, we either want to, or don’t want to. In the final analysis, we act because we enjoy something or decide it has to be done – not because we’re looking for a reward, or because we need to be pushed into it.

In the late 1950s, Martin decided he wanted to become a serious actor. He agreed to star in his first few dramatic roles for a fraction of the salary he was getting in the goofy movies he did with Jerry Lewis. He enjoyed only limited success as a serious performer, but at least, he gave it a try for no other reason than he wanted to.

If we see life as a series of free choices, rather than a burden in which motivation is needed to release us from our chains – we will be at greater peace.

“I can’t stand an actor or actress who tells me acting is hard work. It`s easy work.”

When we’re good at something, it’s not very hard. Yes, we can practice to be even better – but our talents and skills allow us to succeed without a huge amount of difficulty. When it came to his career, Dean Martin always chose to take the easy route – doing what came naturally to him – singing and acting (certainly not boxing). Why do we punish ourselves trying to do that which is tough for us? Look inside, get to know yourself better, then plan and act accordingly.

“The whole world is drunk and we’re just the cocktail of the moment. Someday soon, the world will wake up, down two aspirin with a glass of tomato juice, and wonder what the hell all the fuss was about.”

This quote from Dino sums up his philosophy – that so many people get so worked up about a lot of nothing. To Dean Martin, life was an adventure. He chose not to sweat the small stuff. Or even the big stuff. When his relationship soured with Jerry Lewis, he spent little time in mourning, quickly moving on with his solo career.

Faced with adversity, Martin was likely to make a joke, rather than feel sorry for himself. See what’s really important in your life and put the focus there.

Part of Dean Martin’s image was that of a drunk, but it was largely an act (he was not a heavy drinker). He was also seen as a lady’s man, but in reality, Martin was devoted to family.

In the words of his second wife Jeanne: “He was home every night for dinner.”

Everything Dean Martin did looked easy. There was a reason for that. For him, everything was easy. He was simply himself. When we accept ourselves and choose to be ourselves, our cool factor emerges. Without trying to put on airs and become someone we’re not – we appear far more relaxed.

Even facing death – Dean Martin did things his way. When doctors diagnosed his lung cancer (Martin was a very heavy smoker), they told him he could have an operation that would at least extend his life.

He refused.

The great crooner, who lived a life of “choices” to the very end, died at age 78 in 1995.

Make your life about choices (your choices), specialize in what comes easy, and never sweat the small stuff.

The master of cool sings “Gentle on my mind.” Unfortunately, Martin was always seen with a cigarette in hand, even when singing on stage – a habit that would eventually kill him.


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