Five Life Lessons from Zac Efron
Zac Efron is one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood. If he’s not appearing in the latest edition of GQ, he’s showing off his six-pack abs on T.V.
Followers seem to want to know everything about him, like who Efron is dating, what’s his next movie role might be what he looks like shirtless.
When you examine the large body of work this young, attractive California born actor has amassed in just a few short years, it’s hard not to be impressed by his accomplishments.
Efron has won more awards before reaching the age of 30 than many celebrities obtain in a lifetime. In 2014, he even won the MTV Movie award for Best Shirtless Actor. But is there more to Zac Efron than his body?
What life lessons can we learn from him?
As followers of this blog know, I like to study celebrities and then create posts for you to read that hopefully offer insight into a star’s success. By examining their traits and characteristics, including how they overcame adversity, we can then borrow elements from their life story and apply them to our own.
Let me preface what follows by saying Efron is not perfect … no actor (or person) is. He has carried a sack of personal demons with him over the years that we often do not hear about, including struggles with substance abuse and a penchant for getting into trouble. Perhaps this is what makes the actor so interesting.
You see despite these problems, he has taken a strength-based approach to positively move forward with his future.
Because this blog is all about helping you reach life goals, seemed appropriate to explore the strengths and challenges of Zac Efron – a celebrity who I think has much to teach us.
Are you ready to learn some life lessons from Zac?
Let’s jump right in!
1. Pay attention to your gifts
Efron didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth and came up in a middle class family. His father was an electrical engineer and his mother a secretary. During his teen-years, his parents encouraged him to become involved with extracurricular activities. Sports didn’t seem to interest him but music did.
According to an interview appearing in the Hollywood Reporter, Efron knew every word to Michael Jackson’s Greatest Hits while driving with the family during car trips. His dad took notice and was impressed. And so after some encouraging by his pops, Efron tried his hand at preforming.
“If you’re not going to play sports, you have to do something …” recalls Efron about his dad’s pushing him towards entertainment.
Apparently Zac listened to him and as a result, gained greater awareness into his own personal gifts. He signed up for classes at Allan Hancock College and eventually took on small parts in Peter Pan and Gypsy. He also began to do Improv with his friends and even won a few competitions.
It wouldn’t be long before he got noticed, successfully landing his first television roles on shows like ER and CSI Miami. From this period of his life forward, his career would only accelerate.
Life Lesson: Pay attention to your unique gifts.
2. Know your triggers and limits
When you look at Efron’s early career, you see a young man with very busy schedule. He has appeared in (or was involved with) some type of production from 2002 through 2010. When you look closely at those years, you immediately become aware that in several of years he had multiple roles.
At first glance, this might seem like a good thing, particularly for aspiring actors. In truth however, his hectic scheduled only created a situation where Efron would become burned out.
“I had done films back-to-back-to-back. I was burnt out.” shared Efron in his interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “”Slowly but surely, I was no longer living in my house. It was just hotel to hotel. So my hobbies went out the window,” he added.
Not only did Efron’s hobbies go out the window but so did his ability to socialize with others. He began to isolate, becoming increasingly distant from family and friends.
In order to cope, he turned to alcohol and drugs. It would take two stints in rehab to work through his addictions, something he is undoubtedly focusing on today as part of his recovery.
Addiction as we know is multi-factorial in nature. And while the genesis of Zac Efron’s substance abuse problems were not exclusively caused by his busy work schedule, he acknowledges its frantic and isolative nature were unhealthy, thereby acting as a major trigger.
It is important to state here that a person is never “cured” from addiction and that each day of not using is considered a victory. “It’s a never ending struggle”, commented Efron about his addiction in the Hollywood Reporter piece.
Today, “Zac” is very selective about the parts he takes for film and television. To the extent possible, he tries to remain low-key. “I’m constantly searching for characters that are about betterment of self and betterment of others”, he shared. To help him better understand himself and his addictions, he has joined a 12-step group and is working with a therapist.
Life Lesson: Know your triggers and limits
3. Create positive change
Seeming more centered and focused, Efron has taken much more control over his career. While he is widely recognized as an actor, Efron recently started to step into the world of cinema production. While not a smash hit, he successfully produced his first film, That Awkward Moment (2014) with Michael Simkin.
New productions are slated for the future, including a number of psychological thrillers. These types of films seem to echo his commitment to focusing on parts that are about the betterment of others.
What is interesting here is that Efron is not trying to “find” new roles but instead, helping to create them. In many ways, it appears he has become his own man.
There is an immense lesson here for all of us, which is simply this … by taking charge of your career and following your passions, you create positive change. It was Mahatma Gandhi who famously said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” My sense is that Gandi’s words are being lived in the here and now by Efron.
Lesson: Create positive change
4. Be OK with positive addiction
One of the obvious characteristics about Zac Efron is his body. Anyone with a pair of eyes can see that the guy works out and makes fitness part of his daily routine. And Efron is even competitive on this front. Prior to the 2014 MTV Movie Awards, he tweeted that if he beat Chris Hemsworth (Thor), he would take off his shirt at the award show.
And so what a happened? He won and did exactly as promised.
While that may be a fun story, there is a larger narrative to digest. When you read through the published interviews given by the star over the years, time and again you notice an absolute focus, if not obsession, with fitness.
While some may attribute this to a need to “look hot” in order to survive in Hollywood, I sense that the actor is motivated by something more.
In 1976, Dr. William Glasser penned the ground breaking book, Positive Addiction.
Glasser is the father of Reality Therapy which focuses on the three Rs: Realism, Responsibility and Right/Wrong. At its core, Reality therapy is focused on the here and now and empowers people not to be victims of the past.
In the case of Efron, he appears to be actively choosing his reality and making fitness his “drug of choice” as we say in the counseling world. Reality Therapy and the construct of positive addiction are to my mind part of the larger landscape of mindfulness based cognitive behavior therapy.
While it is important to state that too much focus on fitness and body image can be unhealthy, it is worth noting that wellness related activities, such strength training, beats out cocaine and alcohol use any day of the week.
Lesson: Positive addictions can be a good thing
5. Be aware of your thoughts
I’ve never read about or encountered a Hollywood celebrity or other person in the public arena who has not been the subject of gossip or rumor. This is particularly true of movie-stars where an information void exists about their personal life, which can fuel torrents of gossip by the tabloid press.
It is true – much of the private life of Zac Efron remains a mystery. We only know what is contained in the public record. He is the constant subject of rumors, ranging from ongoing drug use to being gay. What is remarkable about the star is his ability to tune out the negativity.
“I don’t like to live in fear about things like rumors and backlash to begin with — that’s the way I was raised – but I just can’t see what’s wrong with being gay”, he shared in a 2012 interview with the Advocate.
Here is the deal – what we think of Zac Efron doesn’t matter. What matters is what he thinks of himself. Zac has acknowledged in public interviews that he suffers from anxiety and battles with intrusive thoughts by over-thinking things (Hollywood Reporter). His strength however lies in his ability to tune out the negativity by being aware of the moment and then leaning into the positive.
Lesson: What you think about yourself is what really matters
Not yet 30, Zac Efron has become a major mover and shaker in the entertainment world. While he may be known from having a rock hard body, there is so much more to this young man than first meets the eye. At this point in time, he seems to have settled into his own skin and begun to move towards a place of life-balance.
What does the future hold for Efron? That book has yet to be written. We can only look at his behaviors in the present to help inform us of what may come down the road.
One thing for sure – Zac Efron is way more than a shirtless hunk. If we look at his life closely, we see a remarkable story filled with life lessons.
Which of Zac’s life lessons will you chose to help you reach your life goals? Please vote in the poll!