Want to Be Famous? Think Again
Do you want to be famous? Well you shouldnít. Fame should be a surprise, not a goal.
From the moment we are born we instinctively seek validation Ė it is a natural part of human self-discovery. †As small children we hand crayon scrawlings to our parents desperately seeking an encouraging word. †And when we break a lamp, our heads swivel to defend against inevitable disapproving stares. Over our lifetimes, the desire for validation changes in intensity but the need for it remains, even through adulthood.
Fame is an intoxicating ó and perilous ó solution to this universal need.
And why not? It appears to solve all of your validation needs: countless people love you and think you are the best of the best, how could you not be amazing? Unfortunately itís a fantasy, a false illusion. The number of people who think you are great has no correlation to your own sense of worth. Itís like money: the more you make the more you want and it never makes you happier. (If fame is so wonderful, why do famous people run from the paparazzi?)
On occasion people have come forward to share this point. In the movie I Am, Tom Shadyac gives his personal account of his journey to wealth and fame directing blockbuster films. He discovered that he felt empty and disconnected as a result of his accomplishments. He created the documentary as a way to search for the worldís biggest problems and find some answers. His answers were many, but the ones I walked away with were that money doesnít buy happiness and, more importantly, that we are all connected, that we as humans need connection ó not fame ó to feel fulfilled. He didnít just find that fame didnít correlate to happiness; in fact he found that he was more unhappy as his fame grew. Now he only lives on what he needs and only does work that inspires regardless of its potential for making money.
The lack of connection Shadyac discovered speaks to my other reason that fame has its downfalls. When you become known by many, a public persona is formed. Ideally this persona would be the same as who you are, but itís more often the case is the public and private you different. This makes sense though: how can you reveal all of your deepest insecurities to millions of people, do you trust all of them? Do they know you well enough to not get the wrong impression? Your career is then dependent on people liking you. Your persona becomes part of your business success and therefore something that you evaluate and access versus just being you. Itís easy to get caught up in the game. Then you are back to where you started before you became known, not really being known by anyone. Thatís why some well known people can come across so artificially, they have to put on a show for their fans and then be who they really are behind closed doors.
I have been thinking about this dilemma because I help small business owners create marketing strategies that are intended to have them connect authentically with their clients. I am faced with person after person wanting to be bigger, more famous, and have a more extensive mailing list. And why not? Growth is essential; I for one love the process of growing ó itís why I do what I do.
What I have been struggling with is the desire to be famous and our fascination with wanting to emulate others that have achieved the highest levels within various industries. There is a pattern of copying what others do so that you can replicate their results on your own. But trying to be someone else never works and itís not fun. That is why so many people hate marketing. They think they ďhaveĒ to do certain things, because that is the way itís done. Sure, there are some basic things that are part of advertising yourself that are universal like having a website but ďhowĒ you market is completely up to you. I love creating unique strategies that are a reflection of the business, the ideal client and the passion of the business owner. That is where the secret sauce is. You have to make your own path.† I do this only because I canít do work that doesnít inspire me.
I learned this lesson through my foray into learning to paint. I hadnít taken any classes, I just knew I wanted to paint. And as a fan of Jackson Pollack, I knew I wanted to make BIG paintings, and I wanted to emulate his spattered style. So I went out and got huge canvasses and house paint (there was a house paint store nearby), and immediately began to copy Pollackís spattering process.
I liked my first piece but in the process of creating, my own style started to emerge. I started to try new things out. I started using different tools besides brushes to make different styles of spatters. And by the time I started on my second canvas, sure enough, I created something totally different that wasnít spattered at all. I then did another, then another. It turned out that I couldnít do any two paintings alike. They were all totally different, so different that each looked as though a different person had created it. I found that house paint worked well, so I started blending and doing all kinds of crazy things. The goal with marketing and connecting with customers is no different: do what is right for you.
The challenge is figuring out what you love and marketing in a way that is you. If you are doing work that you love and fame is a result of that, then so be it. But having fame as a goal is misguided. †When Eckhart Tolle was informed that he was picked as a book for Oprahís book club he responded with indifference ó he couldnít care less! That is a true sign of a fulfilled person. I have seen this in others I have run across and you can feel that they are doing what they love because they have a calling. Fame is something they have to put up with; they are not seeking it out. Yet because of this they become more attractive and then more famous. Itís a funny thing.
My point is that itís worth looking at your goals and figure out if you are seeking happiness from an outcome versus being happy with what is. Realize that being famous is not going to solve all your problems and that fame comes with as many cons as pros. Shoot for daily fulfillment and doing work that feeds you. And if you become famous as a result, then you can celebrate because you wonít need it, it just is.