“Listen, when I’m competin’ I’m suicidal… This is my only moment to show the world who I am ’cause my self-esteem is so low I never…they’re gonna know my name now!”
Successful people are not normal people.
They’ve got something to prove.
I don’t care if you’re CEO of a Fortune 500 company or Elton John, if you’re at the top of the heap you’re just not regular folk, you’re warped, you didn’t get enough love from your mother, you were abandoned by your father, you’re so anxious and angry you believe the only way your life will be complete is if you win the trophy and get the adulation of those beneath you.
But that doesn’t work.
That’s why the superrich buy all those cars and houses, they’re tying to fill a hole inside so big and empty that it’ll swallow everything you put in it, and more.
You see it’s just too hard. To be that rejected, that broke, that duplicitous, that single-minded. If you think artists are fun people, you haven’t hung around any, or they’re not successful. Yup, we all know someone with an amazing voice, great guitar talent, we say they could have made it. But they didn’t, because they just didn’t have that killer instinct.
Oh, the greats learn how to be nice. But if you haven’t read a rider wherein the act’s demands are out of control, if you haven’t listened to the audio clip where Art Garfunkel or whomever is so particular and so warped, you don’t have an Internet connection.
My friend Seth Godin wrote a post yesterday about waiting to be picked:
I found that less interesting than his follow-up today, which dealt with the blowback.
People have been exposed to so much self-help crap that they believe they’re entitled to be successful. They think it’s a math problem. If I rehearse this much and have this many Twitter followers, I should be rich and famous. Hogwash. Not only is there luck involved, there’s a killer instinct, a monomania, that those who’ve never made it have never been exposed to.
Kind of like at the corporation…
If you think the best and the brightest make it to the top, you work at home, alone. No, making it within the Fortune 500 is all about the politics, the ass-kissing, the gifts, the sucking up. Oh, you’ve got to have the goods, that’s a given.
In other words, the Harvard degree and the powerful parents will get you in the door, but they won’t move you up the ladder.
It’s even worse in entertainment, because education and family lineage have almost nothing to do with it. Everybody’s beginning from the same starting line. And those who don’t make it always have excuses.
Ever notice that careers have an arc?
The press says it’s because the entertainers age out.
No, usually they burn out, they lose their motivation. Because once they get what they thought they wanted, and discover it doesn’t fill the hole, doesn’t answer all their problems, they can’t do it anymore.
You rail against the President, make fun of those atop the pop chart. And that’s a fun game to play at home, but you’ve got no idea what it took to get there, in the game. The reason Taylor Swift doesn’t know how to handle rejection is because she was so busy trying to make it, knocking on doors and playing at radio stations, that she didn’t have a normal life, where the rest of us learn to adjust.
And once you make it to rarefied air, who do you discuss your problems with? I mean who does Madonna talk to, who gets it? We laugh at her, with the plastic surgery and the workouts, but you can’t deny her sheer will, she’s unwilling to be forgotten, she’s doing everything in her power to stay relevant.
The untalented sell their souls, and personalities, on reality television. At this late date, everybody knows the power lies in the hands of the editors. The nicest person can be made to look like a bitch.
But those people are kicked to the curb as soon as the shows get canceled.
And the same applies to today’s plethora of one hit wonders, faces on the productions of the usual suspects.
But if you make it on your talent, if you break through, you’re in a special club wherein everybody knows your name, but no one knows who you really are. You’re hated despite being unknown. You’ve got money but buying stuff no longer makes you happy.
You know why big bands love going on tour?
FOR THE RUSH! The roar of the crowd as they take the stage. That wave of love, each and every night before they retire to the back of the bus alone, or with the same jerks they’ve hated since high school.
You think you want it.
But you don’t even know what it really is.
P.S. The Tyson quote is from his interview yesterday with Howard Stern. If you think you know him, you’re wrong. Mike is broke, smart and nice. He’s survived, so far: