After watching the original Iron Man (2008) MCU film, I realised that Tony Stark was an extremely focused and successful individual. There are so many important lessons we can learn and techniques we can apply, from Tony Stark’s philosophies and lifestyle, to make our lives better focused.
Tony Stark can come across like a bit of a self-centred pr*ck, and so the focus here is not to take inspiration from that – but rather look at what makes Tony Stark the genius, tech savvy superhero… all whilst looking damn cool.
Our mission statement here at Betterfocused is to provide practical value, which basically means: this is not Buzzfeed. You will not find sarcastic comments and uninformative pointers on the Iron Man character – instead you’ll find insightful and practical advice that we’ve learnt from a fictional character that would allow us to progress in our real life.
Here are the 40 steps to becoming the real life Iron Man:
1. Be confident
Tony Stark/Iron Man seems to have an undeniable, life-long confidence. We’re often told that in order to be confident, we must believe in ourselves. And whilst this does briefly enable a surge of confidence, it’s not the true key to having the ultimate, life-long confidence.
To have a longer term confidence, we must not be built up with an idea of how great we are, but we should rather build up an understanding that the others around us are also fools. Everyone has their short comings, their doubts, their fears and their embarrassments – all which aren’t bad things to have. But in coming to terms with the fact that everyone has these, even the scariest and smartest villains, we can have an incredible confidence that can warrant us to be more like Tony Stark.
2. Talk Slower
I noticed that Tony’s charisma and confidence was mainly portrayed by the way he speaks… slowly. In talking slowly, Tony seems incredible calm, collected and confident, especially next to Pepper Pots who is often rushing. By speaking quickly, we usually make ourselves difficult to follow and we miss important points – which is ironic as we commonly speak quickly because we fear the lack of time to communicate and the short attention span of individuals.
So next time you find yourself in a conversation, especially one in which you value the other person’s respect and attention highly, converse slowly. Take your time, and you’ll radiate confidence the same way Tony does.
3. Control your reactions
High stake situations often cause emotions to get the better of us. This prevents us from being able to focus, keep ourselves in check and also be confident and charismatic enough to charm people over. When in a job interview, business deal, date or even a chat with a stranger – being calm and collected is important. Tony Stark always looks although he’s heard the conversation 100 times and knows how to react every time. This can build up if you make yourself more aware of conversation patterns and how they flow – you’ll soon find yourself naturally being more controlled in your reactions.
4. Dress to impress
For Tony Stark to be seen in public, he will either be wearing a well-fitted suit with dinner jacket or his famous Iron Man armour. Both of which stand out and give him the ability to impress. Maybe you don’t have an Iron Man suit, but being aware of how you present yourself is extremely important. Although it’s the personality that counts, dressing well can make a great first impression – which unfortunately to human nature, can actually push through to the rest of your conversation in the other person’s mind. So bang on some nice clothes! Maybe invest in a new suit?
5. Put on a show
Watch Tony Stark’s entrance to the expo in Iron Man 2. Just do that where ever you go. That’s all I have to say.
6. Be transparent
‘The truth is, I am Iron Man’ – Tony Stark. This is possibly one of the best endings to any superhero movie (except from The Dark Knight).
Tony is transparent. Despite the gravity of what it can bring and the danger that it ultimately leads to, he is also aware of the upside. Forget the ‘secret identity’ cliche! Being transparent makes you likeable and can appeal to human nature. Being mysterious can create intrigue for people, but it quickly becomes tiring. When someone is transparent and opens up from an early stage in a friendship or relationship, it can be extremely impactful on how well you treat that person. On this site, I make sure that I’m always completely open and write things that are quite personal, knowing that the support and impact I can really make is worth it – even if I have a few missiles shot at my house.
7. Be more badass
I think the key to Tony Stark’s badassery is that everything ‘cool’ he does seems to come so effortlessly. Any like doing anything naturally and effortlessly, it takes years of practice. Tony Stark probably went through a lot of times where he was the underdog/ the learner. In fact, in Iron Man 1, we see a lot of moments where he is not yet achieved the badass level of effortlessness we see in the later Marvel movies. When he’s testing out his suit for the first time with Jarvis, we witness him failing and learning – both of which you should be doing constantly to become more badass and skilled at whatever it is you want to be great at.
8. Be humble
This is extremely imp… okay I give up. This one is sarcastic.
Watch this incredible video by DailyAsgardianNews simply called ‘I’m so humble‘.
9. Always innovate
Do you notice how everyone that tries to copy Tony Stark’s Iron Man in the Iron Man series seems to fail? Justin Hammer, Whiplash, even the War Machine/Iron Patriot – they all ultimately fail. This is due to Tony Stark’s one tactical edge. He consistently innovating. Whilst Justin Hammer and War Machine simply copied and ultimately made lesser versions of the Iron Man suit, Tony continuously made better and more interesting ideas. You too should always find new and interesting ways of improving and making yourself better. One practical way of doing this is by simply writing thoughts and ideas down and by journalling daily. You can see what I use for my journalling routine here.
10. Constantly evolve
Constantly evolve, a.k.a, always improve and grow. Tony is always building a new Iron Man suit – we even see him building 51 suits in Iron Man 3. Tony knows that it is not possible to arrive at a perfect model and then become still and dormant – he quickly figures out that he needs to constantly work on becoming better and developing suits that are more advanced. In building a new suit, he is developing his skills, getting smarter, more creative and also finds himself being the best at what he does. (look at how Justin Hammer tries to replicate Tony Stark).
As I mentioned in the ‘Be more badass’ step, testing and learning is key. Much like Tony Stark does with any new weapon or feature on the Iron Man suit, for you or anything you build to be great, you must first test and learn from the results. In this, it’s important to also remove ego from the equation and to be brutally honest with the results. If the result is negative, don’t see this as a reason to give up, but rather a great reason to keep pushing forward and improving. I always look forward to getting criticism, as I know that it’s just going to be advice that will ultimately make me far better than I was before – you too should seek what can help improve… you.
12. Learn to survive without technology
In Iron Man 3, Tony has to survive without the gadgets that he usually requires in order to get things done. Learning to survive without technology and doing things for yourself is incredible useful. The age old question people would ask when in Maths class in school would be ‘but when are we ever going to need this in real life?’ Little did we understand that it wasn’t the particular problem that we were learning about that was going to be useful, but learning how to solve a problem on our own in general. This skill is extremely important if you are to push the boundaries of your own world. You should always make sure that technology is simply a tool to execute on your ideas and solutions to problems, rather than just letting other technology itself be the solution.
ACTIONABLE CHALLENGE: Try and not use the internet on your phone for 1 week. This means Wifi and 4G. You will at first be frustrated, but will quickly learn how easily you can actually survive day-to-day life without the internet on your phone. If anything you’ll simply build a better mental base for problem solving – arguably the most important skill we have as humans.
13. Have a personal assistant
Now this may seem contradictory to the previous step, but Tony Stark has Jarvis. A personal assistant. Mind you, this is not so that Jarvis can solve all of his problems for him, but rather so he can have someone else sort out of his minor issues whilst Tony focuses his time and energy on more important matters.
You should consider doing this too – and whilst we don’t yet have technology as sophisticated as Jarvis in our everyday homes, we do have some great alternative, voice activated solutions! My personal favourites which are extremely highly regarded are:
But for when you require a personal assistant on the go, the iPhone 7’s Siri or the Google Pixel’s personal assistant work great.
14. Become extremely aware of death
Okay this might be quite an extreme step by hear me out. Tony Stark is clearly very motivated by death. With the shrapnel being constantly pulled away from his system and blood flow with the mini-arc reactor in his chest, Tony practically lives his days close to death. Yet we notice by the end of Iron Man 2, he has learnt not to fear death but to be motivated by it. He allows it to create a new element which is self-sustained and gives him the edge that none of the other Avengers have. Many great people are motivated by death. Kanye West has often written his music and admitted to base his career decision on the fact that he has not yet come to terms with death – yet his greatest moments have shined from this realisation that death is enevitable. ‘Through the wire’ (one of my favourite Kanye songs) was actually a breakout hit for Kanye based on the fact that he rapped whilst his mouth was wired shut from a car accident. He didn’t allow death to overpower him, but instead motivate him to do great things. Awareness of death can actually create some of the greatest things in the world – I think Steve Jobs put it best:
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
15. Be obsessed
Now this may just be due to narrative, but is it not interesting that we only ever see Tony Stark either talking about saving the world or being Iron Man and part of the Avengers. Tony Stark is obsessed. But this is not a negative. His obsession drives him to do great things and gives him the unlimited resources he seems to be able to tap into. Grant Cardone says ‘I am obsessed with my future, regardless of my past.’ and you should be too.
16. Be open about your passion/projects
The epic line: ‘I am Iron Man’ shows Tony Stark going against the main superheroes have to battle with everyday – hiding their true identity. Although it’s not really that the superhero is hiding their true identity, for the superhero IS the identity. Tony Stark embraces his superhero-ism and is extremely open about it. It’s this openness of his projects and passions that makes him so likeable. I’ve personally tried to follow this closely and you’ll often find me writing about quite deep and personal issues – knowing that someone who is less open will read it and no longer feel so alone.
17. Learn constantly
Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.
Tony is extremely knowledgable and intelligent – but this smartness didn’t come from thin air. Whether it be from books or from other smarter people – learning is an important process of evolving and progressing in life.
18. Never settle
Iron Man’s suit has evolved many times since Tony Stark initially built it. The original Mark I was built with a limited amount of supplies when Stark was held prisoner. On the Mark II, Stark improves the suit’s flight capabilities and adds more features. The problem with Mark II is it freezes when Iron Man flies too high, so Mark III fixes the this problem by changing the material. In Iron Man 3, the Mark XLII can be summoned remotely in pieces!
It’s evident that Tony never settles. Never accepts the status quo. This is how you should be:
Never get comfortable. Always seek improvement. Never settle.
19. Stay focused
When Tony commits to building a suit of armour and to use it to end the destruction Stark Industries has caused – he sees it all the way through to the end… Tony stays focused. Sure, he could ignore it all. He is a billionaire. But Tony Stark believes in his mission and makes sure he does everything in his power in order to stay focused at all times. You too can learn how to be this focused – it’s no superpower.
20. Do what you love
The passion that drives Tony to accomplish what he has done is what has allowed him to see past any difficult moments and not give up. Obstacles are inevitable. In fact, Ryan Holiday talks often about how the Obstacle is the thing that will allow you to succeed if you see it through – and doing what you love is what will allow you to do just that.
21. Have a mission bigger than you
It’s incredible what can be achieved when you have a purpose that is bigger than you. Most people won’t eat healthily because they feel better, but will more likely eat better if their health had a negative effect on their children. This may be a minor example, but it just goes to prove that it works on any scale – have a mission bigger than you. Iron Man is about saving the innocent people of the planet. So whether it’s owning a business, having a career path, improving yourself or maintaining a great relationship – don’t make it about you, it has to be bigger than that.
22. Never give up
Tony Stark’s success and Iron Man’s continued path to world peace require one thing from Tony Stark – to never give up. It’s impossible to reach success without first facing failure, so don’t let anything stop you. Failure is actually a normal process in life. If you need one more powerful reason to never give up just watch this emotional video.
23. Focus on your strengths
At no point do we see Tony trying to write an article or make a high production video – these are just not his strong suit (if you pardon the pun). This seems obvious that Tony only focuses on his strengths, but unfortunately in the modern advertisement filled world – we are constantly told that we are not good enough. But just know that you are and that you have strengths – now go and focus on them and go and live your dreams!
24. Stay off Alcohol?
One big lesson that Tony Stark learns after a party of his is that he makes careless mistakes when drinking alcohol. I wrote about my own experiences of drinking and staying sober and it’s effects. Maybe it’s worth considering the affects it’s having on you – even if you consider yourself to ‘not drink that much’.
25. Isolate yourself sometimes
A successful person sets time aside to reflect and innovate. In the first Iron Man, Tony Stark locks himself in his workshop to develop his armoured suit. In the second film, it is only when he isolates himself that he uncovers the new element for his arc reactor. You too should find a way to lock yourself away from the busy-ness and fast pace of life in order to evaluate and strategically plan the next move.
26. Be aware of how you are perceived
In Iron Man 2, we see the Avenger’s initiative start to take place – however Tony Stark is quickly denied access to the invincible team. In the initiative scene we see Tony go through his review given by agent Romanov. Although he initially fights his corner, he actually ends up agreeing with the analysis of ‘textbook narcissism’. This kind of self-awareness can often come from how others perceive you and then reviewing. Take note: this should be used with caution as you do not want to allow false, negative thoughts that others may have to affect you – this advice is really for those who want to know more about their strengths, eg. asking a good friend what they would say about you if they were recommending you to a blind date.
27. Have fun
The quickest way to self-awareness and knowing what you love and what you don’t is by attempting to ‘have fun’. Sometimes the thoughtless act of having a good time and enjoying yourself is a necessary step in the process of becoming great. Tony Stark does extremely well to have fun. He, despite wanting to save the world and do good, also knows exactly how to party and to have fun. Iron Man 2 saw him partying and discovering more about himself in the outcome of the party than he would have done just sitting and contemplating his life actions.
Whenever you feel as though you are in a progress halt and cannot figure out what you want to focus on or want to improve, go out and have fun. And then following your time of enjoyment, pay attention to what made you happy and what didn’t – this is the key to self-awareness.
28. Have good taste
You’ll notice how even after a big battle as Iron Man, Tony always finds time to look and have a suave presence. This is because Tony Stark has great taste – he lives his suave-ness. Here are the kinds of things you need to be Tony Stark on a regular basis and to have as great taste as Tony does. Ultimately giving you that ‘I just saved the world and now I want to drink some whiskey and look cool’ kind of look:
29. Make sure your products inline with your values
When Tony Stark realises that the main client for his company’s weapons was the very terrorists that he believed the weapons would stop, his perspective was shifted entirely. His circumstance demanded that he looked at what was happening and figured out how to solve the problem. In this case, Tony realised that he had to build a weapon that was strong and powerful enough to take down the enemy that used his weapons. Tony then created the Iron Man suit.
If you own a business, you should have, at least, a yearly check-in and review to make sure that your products are in-line with your core values. Although this might feel like a step back, it’s actually the very thing that is going to help you innovate and build better products in the future. If you’re in a career path, make sure that the company you work for is truly right for you! Don’t work your arse off 40 hours a week if you despise what the company does and what is provides. This will put you on a path to getting a job you will really care about and therefore naturally excel at.
30. Listen to yourself
It’s clear that Tony is extremely self-aware and follows his gut feeling. If your gut is telling you to ask that girl on that date, not to take that job or to start writing a book – do it. Most of the time your subconscious knows exactly what you want and knows exactly what it’s talking about – it’s the people around you and the stresses of everyday life that are confusing you. The alternative to listening to your gut will be to live in a state of regret – I think the choice is obvious.
31. Don’t take yourself too seriously
There are moments in both Tony Stark and our lives when we end up putting immense pressure on our shoulders. We are responsible for the well-being and happiness of EVERYBODY ON THE PLANET. And not to suggest that you cannot affect people positively – instead, we should look at how taking yourself too seriously can actually prevent you from helping others. Every so often, give yourself permission to not be so serious and enjoy the world you live in. That pure love for what you do is going to be the biggest influencer in other people’s lives.
32. Delegate your weaknesses
Much like Tony passes on his suit painting and other work that are not part of his strengths to Jarvis and his robot assistants or even sometimes Pepper Pots (like business), you too should delegate out your weaknesses and priorities your time on your strengths. This is how to truly progress and make a big impact – because if you are making a difference, you really don’t have time to work on things you’re not good at, so delegate them to others who are good at that particular task.
33. Make people aware of what you have done
But don’t just talk about it though. Instead, just do more and people will just find you extremely hard to ignore – which is exactly how Iron Man and Tony Stark’s success is so well known.
34. Make great friends
Whether it’s people like Pepper Pots, Rodes, The Avenger’s crew or even just his geeky science pal Bruce Banner – Tony Start has great friends and they are who keep him focused and support him when times get tough. If you know already that you’ve got great friends, acknowledging them (like I’ve done here) is a great way of practicing gratitude or even just spreading positivity.
35. Have someone to look up to
During the second film, we witness Tony’s admiration for his own father (then again, his father was Stirling Cooper). This admiration was what lead Tony think beyond himself and have a bigger goal in mind – it actually lead to him discovering a new element and solving what seemed like an impossible challenge.
36. Collaborate to innovate
When Bruce Banner and Tony Stark put their heads together, they created ‘Vision’. This kind of pure innovation is only that can come from working with another mind. Take note when innovating that there are 3 powerful questions that can inhibit you from being creative!
37. Don’t make enemies of your friends
Captain America: Civil War came to prove that nothing good comes from being enemies with your friends (apart from a brilliant film). Whatever you do, do not make enemies of your friend – they can hurt you where no one but your friends can reach. If you have to cut ties with a friend, make sure it’s either done subtly or respectfully.
38. Have a great team
Well we all know that Tony Stark has one of the greatest teams ever. They are a team of superheroes with aligned values to save the world and one mission in mind. But you too can have a great team like this – in fact, it’s vital that you do. It’s often stated that ‘we are the average of our 5 closest friends’. It means our standards, our ambition and our actions are usually predicated and influenced by those close to you. Audit this team and settle for nothing less than a team you could call: The Avengers.
39. Believe in those who are just starting out
Much like Tony Start believed in the young Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War and Spiderman: Homecoming; you too should believe and mentor those who are just starting out. There is of course a great benefit to you being their mentor (which is that they will feel as though they are in your debt forever) but it’s really the large scale thinking we have to do here. When Iron Man helps out Spider-man, he doesn’t just get another superhero recruit – Tony encourages Peter Parker to save others around him. Peter is now put on a path to succeed and do great things for others. Tony’s one choice to take Peter under his wing and help him out can results in a huge number of people being inspired and positive to do the same. So make sure you don’t neglect the young version of you, in fact, try to remember when you were as inexperienced and young as them – what kind of help and advice would you want at that stage? Give that to them.
40. Build a f*cking Iron Man suit
It is possible.
And here’s a version for pure aesthetics. – so badass!