WHO ARE WE LOOKING AT?
Who: Matt Weston
Actor: Ryan Reynolds
Film: Safe House (2012)
Why Look At Him? As much as I wanted to look at the Tobin Frost character in this article – as he is pretty badass – I had to choose Weston however as he is the virtuous hero of the piece and there is too much of the Frost character that I would have had to keep alluding to and advising people not to become like! Weston though has a lot going for him too and is a great character to write about.
At the beginning of the film, Weston is a lowly CIA operative, who is tasked with looking after the most basic of field work. He is given the role of ‘House Keeper’, the CIA agent who looks after a ‘Safe House’ – a location that offers field agents protection, equipment, medical supplies and other needed items when they are out in the field. However, the ‘Safe House’ is also somewhere that the CIA(and others) can move a high profile target to pump him for information, keep him hidden from allies and possible danger as well as prime him to be moved to a more secure location like a prison etc.
As the film progresses, Weston moves from being an inexperienced character to becoming a seasoned operative by being hurled headfirst into dealing with one of the most experienced operatives ever and learning the ropes fast. The film follows Weston as he tries to keep Frost safe from assassins, avoid losing Frost and take Frost to another safe-house.
Despite the pressure applied to him by Frost and the lack of faith in him by his employers, Weston develops into a serious badass and becomes the hero by the end of the film. Yet, more importantly, it is the journey that Weston goes on that makes him a great character to analyse. With a little tweaking you can use what he did to ‘prove yourself’ and achieve great things.
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT HIM THOUGH?
No matter who we are, we all reach a point in our lives where we have a decision to make. You reach a point where you can either stay at the level that you find yourself in or you can decide to push yourself hard to move onto that next level and the goodies that it brings.
When you get to this stage, you have a straightforward choice. Remain in your comfort zone and see your development plateau or you can decide to pursue your dreams but take a chance at failing and encountering danger and problems along the way. To get to that next level, you need to prove yourself. Sometimes that this means proving you are capable to your boss, a coach or similar. However, on occasion, it can simply be a case of proving to yourself that you are capable of being better and can do what you want to achieve in life.
To prove oneself, to others or (more importantly in the long run) yourself, you need to step away from your comfort zone and take risks. You need to throw yourself into learning new skills, upping the level of responsibility that you accept and putting some serious field work time in. That is what Weston did, albeit he was forced into action!
Sadly, the journey is not always straight forward or hassle free. You will encounter problems and probably a lot of them. There’s no getting around that. Weston encountered a lot of strife as he tried to prove himself. You will too. It is the journey that you take that changes you into either a great man or the same as everyone else. By leaving your own ‘safe-house’ and facing the challenges to prove yourself, you become one of the unique people in life who don’t accept the normal life and instead go for the next level.
However, the sort of extreme event that propels people to change, like in Weston’s case, rarely happens (unfortunately). Some people are lucky where there is an event that forces them to step up, pushes themselves hard and prove their capabilities. They realise that where they are just now isn’t ‘safe’ where they are and it pushes them to strive to change and reach their next level ‘safe house’. The problem is though, that this rarely happens. A life altering event rarely happens. Few of us will ever encounter such an event that forces you to change. The majority of us will remain at the level that we are at and it is solely up to us to decide what we do or do not do.
So how can you do that if you do not have a life altering moment where your safe life is attacked? You can look to characters like Weston, who show how pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone can bring you experiences and riches outside of your wildest dreams. You use the transformation of Weston and other such characters to motivate you, to spur you on. Just because you don’t have that root cause that Weston had, you can still become a high level operative too.
How? Simple. Keep reading …
OK, I’M INTERESTED, WHAT SHOULD I BE LOOKING OUT FOR THEN?
- He is skilled. Despite being desperate to improve himself, Weston finds himself contained in a low level position with little happening daily. He stares at the same four walls everyday and doesn’t have many people using his ‘Safe house so he finds it hard to gain any real experience. However, Weston does not let his lack of chances to prove himself hold him back. He has a daily routine to keep himself in shape and on control of his skills. For example, Weston spends time working on his unarmed combat by punching the bag as well as learning new languages using language podcasts and so on. Weston keeps himself learning and using his skills as much as possible to keep them up to date. You need to do this too. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, if you are pushing your comfort zone or not, you need to keep on top of all of your current skills to succeed.
- He is an amateur dealing with professionals. Something that you notice quickly, is that Weston is out of his depth … big time! He is an amateur trying to hang in there with a seasoned professional. This means that Weston has a steep learning curve. As bad as it seems for Weston and as bad as it sounds, its actually what you want. Weston had no choice but you should look for it. If you stay with people you are comfortable with and do the same things as normal, you will plateau hard. Only by involving yourself with more talented and experienced people and trying new things can you really move onto the next level. There’s an old saying ‘if you are the most X (intelligent, smart or whatever) in the room, you are in the wrong room’. No matter what your mission is, you need to find people who are more experienced in the task that you want to do. You need to find people who will motivate you, challenge you and push you to learn and become more experienced. Whatever new thing you are doing, you will be an amateur. You need to find the professionals in that area to show you the ropes and help you become a professional too.
- He’s easy to manipulate at the start but learns. A big part of Weston’s character is that he is a ‘greenhorn’ operative. That means he is a novice and not experienced. As he doesn’t really know the ropes, he is easily manipulated by the more seasoned (and sometimes) corrupt people he deals with. Unfortunately, you may encounter this as you try to learn the ropes during your mission. Some people will try and take advantage of your inexperience. Some people will try and manoeuvre you into doing what they want. Unfortunately, the only real way to tell apart the people who are trying to help you and the ones who are really hindering you is to engage daily as you try to achieve your mission. Theorising and thinking will not really help you. You cannot truly learn by looking at papers or at a computer screen. You learn by doing, by taking part, by performing on site. Like Weston, you will learn as you take part. Planning will get you started but the only way to win, is to take that first step … then the next one … then the next one and basically keep going until you achieve your mission.
- He does what he needs to do to complete his mission or tasks. A big part of Weston that appeals, is how determined he is. Weston may lack the skills of the other operatives but he makes up for it (mostly) by how motivated and intense he is in going after his goals and pushing himself past pain and mental anguish to get there. Look, you are going to suck when you start. Any goal you pick, will most likely be a new experience for you. You won’t be experienced in it, so you will be really bad and fail most of the time (at the start anyway). Yet, if you keep going, you will slowly learn the ropes, become more experienced and start to see some great success. However, to do that, it will take guts. You will need to be intensely focused on your goals and become desperate to achieve it, no matter the time it takes, the challenges you face or the severity of the opposition you encounter. Like Weston, you need to see your goals and only your goals. You need to know your goal in-depth and shut out external distractions. Your goal should become all that consumes and drives you.
OK – HOW CAN I BECOME LIKE HIM?
- Choose your target. The most important decision that you make will be of the target that you pick. The mission you select must be so epic that it engulfs your life. Your target will need to get you out of bed pumped up and ready to take on the world. Start by looking at your life and deciding what it is that you most want to do. Weston had his missions given to him. You won’t have that luxury. You need to pick a mission so large that it becomes your sole focus. Once you have your mission, you can then work out what you need to do to achieve that mission, the tasks that need completed and the skills that you will need to acquire. Once you know that, all you got to do is complete each of the tasks with as much effort as you can.
- Give 100%. I don’t think I need to really say much about this one. You need to work your ass off towards achieving your mission 100%. That is the real key to all this. Once you have your mission, it’s all about the level of effort that you put in that will determine if you fail or succeed. Effort can overcome people disliking you. Effort can overcome lack of qualifications and experience. Effort can overcome many of the struggles you will face. However, none of the latter can overcome a lack of effort. Either try hard or fail. It’s that simple.
- Keep your skills tight. No matter what you are going after, you will need to learn new skills. However, you cannot just rely on learning new skills and hoping for the best. You will need to keep your core skillset current and ready to use. You need to work hard on developing yourself but at the same time, working to keep your current skillset strong. Weston spent free time learning new languages, using a punch bag and so on to hone his skills. He knew that he may need to use these skills at any given time so they had to be fluid and ready for action. As you learn skills, you need to keep on top of them and developing them to be as strong as possible. You never know when a chance to use them to propel you into stardom may come. There is noone as good at that as you – prove that to them!
- Remain true to your core. As you try and improve, bad shit will happen. People will doubt you. Others will be suspicious of you and your motives. Sadly, a few will treat you like shit and try and stop you out of spite. However, no one can stop you if you don’t let them. No matter what happens, you should not let it change the good person that you are at the core. As you grow and develop, you may experience chances to take the easy option, become more aggressive, become sneakier and so on. However, that’s the easy way out. The only road that the easy option leads to is failure. People always get caught out using the easy option. In the film, Weston could have easily become as corrupt as Frost, however he stuck hard and true to his values and ideals and it is this that makes him such a great character to look at. Weston is proof that you can work your ass off, learn new skills, learn the secrets and politics of the higher up world but still remain true to the good person they are. Become the next proof of it.
- Never give up. Bad shit will happen. Things will go wrong. People will screw you over and try to stop you hitting that next level because of a number of reasons (jealousy, hatred, being a general jackass etc). No matter what happens, you can’t give up. Everything that is thrown against you is simply a way to push your comfort zone further and learn how to deal with it. Bad things happen but instead of seeing them as bad, instead see them for what they truly are – a learning experience. The only time you truly fail is when you stop trying. A lot of time it is the people who are so close to achieving their goal that end up giving up on their dreams as they won’t push it that little bit harder. No matter what happens, keep on pushing. Use anything bad as a learning experience – readjust your approach using what you found from the bad event and then go at it hard again! If you keep going, again and again, no matter what, you will end up proving yourself. If you keep at it, pushing towards your goal again and again you will eventually break through. (Even if you don’t, people will love your determination).
A FINAL NOTE:
We all live in a metaphorical safe house in our life at some point. It is a warm and safe place. There is everything you need there to keep us safe and happy, away from potential dangers. However, by staying there, you will never truly know the person that you can become or what you can achieve. It is only by taking a risk and trying to prove yourself that you can really fulfil your true potential. Modern day life has become easy.
There are too many trappings that fufil more than our basic needs. You can have a very enjoyable life just staying where you are now. You can stay in the job that doesn’t challenge you, yet pays the bills. See the friends who keep you from feeling lonely but don’t truly care about you or your dreams. You can use drink and drugs to null the pain of your life so that you don’t need to feel the pain of longing for more. You can put in the bare essential amount of work at your life and as we live in modern times, you can have a satisfactory life.
But who in the hell wants a ‘satisfactory’ life? Who wants to live a life that is so run of the mill that anyone else can have it? I for one certainly do not. I truly believe that in each of us is a mission or task that will make us truly unique and great. You can do so much more with your life than you give yourself credit for. You never know until you try.
Remember, no matter how challenging something seems, “You practice anything a long time, you get good at it”.
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK?
So what do you think? Is Matt Weston an inspiration for pursuing your dreams or is Weston someone that you will use for inspiration as you try and achieve your goals? Or will you allow your target to remain in your ‘Safe-House’ and never become the operative that you are capable of becoming?