The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Celebrities

By now, everyone already knows Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – and for those who still don’t, a maverick indie version is now showing: 1) Be a self-starter. Being pro-active means taking the initiative and venturing out of your comfort zone. Bono, lead singer of U2 and the world’s biggest rock star, used his fame to win friend and influence world leaders to help end global poverty. “It is no longer crazy to suggest that we can eliminate tuberculosis and malaria from the planet,” Bono wrote in a stirring essay for Time. “It is no longer unthinkable to imagine a world without AIDS or extreme poverty. And this isn’t hope talking, or faith. This is hard science pointing us toward a better, healthier world.” Bono founded DATA and produced Live 8 with Bob Geldof – and was hailed as one of the 2005 Persons of the Year by Time alongside Bill and Melinda Gates. 2) Be goal-oriented. Beginning with the end in mind means knowing what you want to achieve in life. Leonardo DiCaprio, star of Blood Diamond and The Aviator, started as a matinee idol. “I tried to get an agent when I was 7,” he told Newsweek. “I knew I wanted to be an actor, but it wasn’t until This Boy’s Life, when I was 16, that I started to research in quality films.” When DiCaprio first saw James Dean in East of Eden, he thought: “Wow, I didn’t know it was possible to give a performance this good.” DiCaprio wanted to shed his boy-next-door image: “I wanted to establish myself as an actor who put a lot of thought into his characters and did good work. And then I did a movie called Titanic, and there I was, right back into the position of being looked at as another piece of cute meat.” 3) Be organized. Putting first things first means focusing on the essentials. Steven Spielberg, director of War of the Worlds and Minority Report, believes that a filmmaker’s job is to tell the story. “I’ve never, ever made a movie where I said I’m making this picture because the message can do some good for the world—even when I made Schindler’s List,” he told Time. “I made the picture out of pure wanting to get that story told. I thought it was important that at least my kids someday could see what happened, just to heat story being told. I feel the same way about Munich. For Spielberg, the key word is Passion. “When I don’t have a movie, I don’t take a job for the sake or working, I just sit it out until I find something I’m passionate about. If I find something light, I’ll make it, like Terminal,” he said. “And if I find something dark and historical, like this Doris Kearns Goodwin book I’m working on now, I’ll do that. It’s just how things work out. It’s all about timing.” (Note: Spielberg was referring to Team of Rivals, about Abraham Lincoln. The film will star Liam Neeson.) 4) Be creative. Thinking “Win-win” means thinking out of the box to find the best course of action. George Clooney, star of The Good German and Good Night, and Good Luck, is a human-rights activist. To expose the genocide in Western Sudan, he addressed the United Nations Security Council and produced the documentary A Journey To Darfur. Clooney knows his strengths and limits. He ended speculations that he will be running for Illinois Senator in 2008 because the incumbent Barack Obama is running for President. “I am not going into politics,” he clarified in Newsweek. “I like Obama, I consider him a friend and I love how good he is at what he does. I am excited by his getting into the race. It energizes everything. And I would do whatever I can to help him, even if that means staying away.” 5) Be prepared. Seeking first to understand before being understood means doing your homework. Angelina Jolie, star of The Good Shepherd and Mr.& Mrs. Smith, is a Good-Will Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Her advocacy started in 2001 when she witnessed the brutal conditions in Cambodia. “I remember sitting up for 2 straight days and reading everything obsessively,” she told Newsweek. “I read about the UNHCR, and I realized it was an agency that I didn’t know anything about: that they were taking care of 20 million people – and I remember realizing that I couldn’t understand how I had not known that my whole life.” Jolie “was very nervous to call the U.N. agency at the time. I was considered a rebel in Hollywood. At that time I was also a bit of a wild child. So first I went to Washington and sat with everybody there.” The Oscar-winning actress “spent the next year and a half going to, first, two camps in Africa, and then Pakistan and Cambodia. And with no cameras and with no press, and had the opportunity to have this great education before I spoke at all – I was transformed in such an amazing way.” 6) Be efficient. To synergize is to get more work done with less effort. George Lucas almost single-handedly transformed the movies. While making his first Star Wars, he gave up a large salary in exchange for ownership of all rights of sequels, merchandising, music and publishing – and the film made box-office history. He funneled his earnings from his Star Wars and Indiana Jones series to achieve his vision of a digital future. His Industrial Light & Magic pioneered the motion-control camera and the groundbreaking Morf computer program. His Skywalker Sound pioneered the THX digital sound. “I am very aware as a creative person that those who control the means of production control the creative vision,” he told Forbes. “But if you own the cameras and the film. they can’t stop you.” 7) Be well-rounded. Sharpening the saw means achieving balance in life. Meryl Streep, star of Music of the Heart and The Devil Wears Prada, describes herself in a Reader’s Digest interview as “An actress who goes home to her family when I’m finished working.” The most transcendent actress alive was hailed as one of the 2006 Time 100. The late filmmaker Robert Altman has captured her beautifully: “She needed not one thing from me, and in any case, no guidance, direction or suggestion I could have given would have matched her flawless instincts,” wrote the director of A Prairie Home Companion. “Meryl may be the most celebrated actor in the world, but she has never succumbed to the notion of celebrity. Her dedication to her privacy and family is fierce and rare.” Bono photo courtesy of ImagingInfo. This story originally appeared in Philippine Panorama. It subsequently appeared in AllVoices. Your comments and links are welcome

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