10 Rules of Success According to Bradley Cooper

You don’t have to be a huge movie fan to know who Bradley Cooper is. He’s one of the hottest actors around, and he’s starred in box office blockbusters such as The Hangover trilogy, American Hustle, American Sniper, Silver Linings Playbook, and many others. In fact, for his work on the big screen, he’s earned four Oscar nominations and was named to the 2015 Time 100 list of the most influential people in America. From 2001-2006, Cooper also had a starring role in the hit TV show Alias.

Cooper is highly recognizable, well respected, and incredibly successful as an actor. Whatever field you’re in, you can learn a lot from Cooper’s career and his attitudes toward success. Here are the ten rules of success according to Bradley Cooper.

1. Give your best effort, no matter what role you’re in.

Cooper always gives 100%; he’s always ready to “bring it hard,” as he might say. Whether he’s in a small role or a big role, whether he’s in a goofball comedy or a serious dramatic role, he always puts his best effort out there to get the most out of every performance. Similarly, whatever line of work you’re in, you’ve got to go all in, even if you perceive a project as minor. In the moment, it’s always major.

2. Trust your instincts.

Many successful people, whether they’re actors like Cooper or professional athletes or entrepreneurs, will tell you to always go with your gut. Building on this idea, you can’t let others talk you out of what you instinctively know is right — and you especially can’t let yourself talk you out of it either! Often, we’re our own worst enemies, and we push ourselves to go against our instincts because we’re scared. However, if you trust your instincts, you’ll almost never be steered in the wrong direction.

3. The best way out is through.

If you’re working on a particularly challenging task, quitting will never get you anywhere. Instead, you’ve just got to push through to the other side. Not only does this get the work done, but it also affords you a keen perspective on hard work: if you get through something really difficult, other challenges won’t seem so bad. Cooper says that one of his hardest roles was in 2006’s Three Days of Rain on Broadway, with its intense rehearsal schedule and eight performances each week, but he couldn’t quit. Instead, he pushed through and was able to make it work. Now, when he’s faced with a challenging task, he knows that as hard as it is, it probably won’t be as hard as his work on that show.

4. Believe that you can.

No one will believe in you quite like you will. Just as we can be our own worst enemies, we can also be our own best cheerleaders, and if you believe in yourself, others will too. Cooper saw this when he played the part of Joseph Merrick in the 2014 Broadway revival of The Elephant Man. For this part, he didn’t wear heavy makeup or use props to make himself look like the physically deformed protagonist. Instead, he believed he was Merrick, and the audience went with it, so much so that Cooper was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play.

5. Always try new things.

The only way to learn is to try something new and explore your options. Otherwise, you get stuck doing the same things, you become bored, you stop growing as a person, and you limit your chances of achieving success. Cooper tries to accept roles that scare him, since that pushes him to try harder, learn how to do new things, and grow as an artist. Whatever your line of work, you can apply the same philosophy: challenge yourself, try something new, and you’ll be rewarded. It’s always a learning experience.

6. Success comes from the hustle.

If you’re looking to be successful, no matter what your line of work, you always have to be on. You’re always representing yourself, always trying to grow and build your name and your business. Success doesn’t take a vacation, and while work-life balance is definitely important, you can’t completely shut down the work part of the equation if you’re going to be successful.

7. Never stop improving.

You’re never finished — you can always get better! Once you recognize this, there’s no limit to your success. Cooper always wants to be challenged, always wants to work with bigger and better actors to hone his own craft, and that’s a great attitude to take into any line of work: there’s always room for improvement.

8. You’ve got to love what you do.

If you love what you do, it informs every single aspect of your life and makes everything that much better. It impacts how you come into work every day to how you approach challenges to how you interact with others. It makes you happier, makes you better, and makes you nicer! In a recent talkback session with Fandango All Access, Cooper responded to a fan question about why he was such a nice guy with, “I think that if you love what you do, isn’t it hard to be an asshole?” There’s a lot of truth in that statement!

9. Focus on your work, not yourself.

If you’re constantly worried about your appearance, or how you’re reacting to every last little thing, your work will suffer. If, on the other hand, you focus on the work, the work will speak for itself, and it will be good — often good enough to have a real impact. Cooper tries not to focus on himself when he’s working, which is hard in a career that’s so appearance driven as acting, but if he can do it, so can you!

10. A good impression will take you far.

We’re not talking about about making an impression — we’re talking about doing impressions. They’re good to lighten the mood and provide a welcome laugh here and there. Cooper can do impressions of Robert De Niro, Owen Wilson, Bill Clinton, Christopher Walken, and others, and they always get people giggling. What impressions can you do?

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