Career Path

My Cousin Vinny Said It Best


There are literally millions of amazing quotes in the world, many of which can feel spot-on to what you’re dealing with moment you read them. I could name a few off the top of my head right now, or less specifically, I could talk about the many great individuals who spoke such wise words, likely predicting that I would need to hear them decades — or even centuries — later. A sort of cosmic connection, if you will.

A workday can be unpredictable, sometimes to the point that you’re left feeling overwhelmed or against the world. These are the moments when those small quotes can have the huge impact on your mental state.

For me, one of the most profound lines that I’ve applied to my career comes from one of my favorite movies of all time, “My Cousin Vinny.” If you’re not familiar, it’s a classic ’80s movie about “two youts” from New York landing themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time in rural Alabama, resulting in them being accused of murder. One of the boys (Ralph Macchio, aka The Karate Kid) reaches out to his cousin, Vinny (Joe Pesci), an inexperienced lawyer also from New York, to help them out.

In the heat of a stressful discussion, Macchio says to his friend, “Will you relax? There’s nothing to worry about until there’s something to worry about.”

There’s nothing to worry about until there’s something to worry about. It’s so simple, but yet, we’re these complex beings who often cannot control our wandering minds past the point of worry.

How many times have you gotten just a fraction of the details but somehow worked yourself up into a tightly wound ball of stress only to learn the reality of things isn’t that bad? It happens because many of us are creatures of habit, and because patterns control many aspects of our lives. If someone’s reaction to a mistake was poor the last time, you likely expect the same this time. But, beyond the superficial implications, imagine what that does to our bodies, mentality and, in turn, our ability to function at work and other places where we strive for greatness.

The best way I’ve learned to combat this habit, and to integrate such a clear-cut motto into my life, is by first understanding that it is, in fact, a habit. The second part is treating it as a bad one I’m trying to kick.

Every situation is different with new circumstances. These days, I’m trying to remind myself of that more and more, recognizing that I cannot control another’s reaction or words, I can only control my own. Typically when someone says that, it’s in relation to a disagreement, but this extends further than the external; internalizing those passive moments can be as equally destructive to your health and performance as confrontation, especially if you’re someone who carries a lot of stress by nature. It’s about retraining the way we think and approach different things — perhaps by practicing empathy more often, or by giving the benefit of the doubt when details are lacking. Maintaining a positive attitude can make a world of difference in your performance, providing more headspace for energy and creative thinking. These little efforts have the power to turn a stressful Thursday back into “Friday Jr.”

So the next time you get an email that feels more like a cliffhanger than it does a full thought, remind yourself: There’s nothing to worry about until there’s something to worry about.

Taylar Ramsey

Written by: Taylar Ramsey

Taylar Ramsey is a marketing independent contractor with specialty in strategic campaign design and execution, event planning and creative copywriting. A long-time friend of Human Capital Media, she regularly contributes content surrounding external promotions, internal development and outstanding achievements – all reflective of Human Capital Media’s vision, “Better workplaces, better lives.”


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