In the late 1970s, when Clint Eastwood read the script for the movie, Every Which Way But Loose, all of his business advisors urged him to turn down the role.
“My lawyer begged me not to do it,” Eastwood recalled in a recent interview with Esquire. “’This is a piece of shit. It’s not the kind of thing you do.’ And I said, ‘It’s not the kind of thing that I’ve been doing—all these pictures where I’m shooting people. I want something you can take your kids to.’”
Eastwood ended up doing the move, of course. And while Every Which Way But Loose was hardly a cinematic masterpiece, it became a commercial hit. It did not ruin Eastwood’s acting career. While the decision to do the movie seemed risky at the time, Eastwood liked the story about a rough-and-tumble trucker and an orangutan named Clyde. It was something different.
“If you make a couple decisions where your instincts worked well, why would you abandon them?” Eastwood said.
I remember one night in the fall of 1988, walking to the mailbox and pulling out a brochure from the University of Missouri. I was a high school senior at the time, and I was looking at different colleges to attend. Missouri wasn’t on my radar at all. I had never been to the Show-Me State, and didn’t know much about it beyond Harry Truman and Mark Twain. In fact, I still have no idea how the people at the University of Missouri got my contact information.
Nevertheless, as I sat down at our kitchen table and flipped through the glossy brochure, I got excited. Something about the place just seemed right. I filled out the application that night and mailed it the next day. Ten months later, I was a freshman in Columbia, Missouri, more than 700 miles from my hometown.
I had practical reasons for choosing my college—I wanted to go to journalism school, and Missouri had a good one. Mostly, though, my decision was based on instinct. It just felt like the right place for me.
I think it was a good decision, and it has directed almost everything that has happened in my life since—my career, the woman I married, the city we live in, most of my friends. All of that would have been completely different had I chosen to attend, say, the University of Georgia.
I am grateful for following my instincts that night in 1988. The life that has unfolded since has been a good one.
As we get older and pick up more responsibilities, it becomes harder to act on a hunch. Often, we choose the safer route because we have so much more at stake than when we were young. We aren’t high school seniors anymore, and we certainly aren’t movie stars who can afford to take a chance on making a goofball truck driver flick.
But our instincts are still there. When is the last time you listened to yours? How did that decision work out for you?