Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Whatever You Build, You Will Have to Maintain

Whether it is Amy Winehouse’s death, Justin Bieber’s recent downfall in the public eye, or Lindsay Lohan’s constant attendance at the local rehab center -- being famous isn’t for everyone & it isn’t as easy as one might suspect. And these examples should be enough warnings to would-be influencers and others seeking fame.

What’s concerning is that our culture -- our world, even -- glorifies celebrities, when in actuality their lives often seem empty. We should see the unfortunate death of your celebrities as a clarion call to those of us seeking influence to be cautious.

Let’s be honest -- fame is seductive. Any influencer or communicator will tell you:

It’s tempting to want to be famous. The opportunity to have more influence, to talk to more people, to increase your followers, is sexy.

Fame draws us in with one tempting thought: the allure of more. Thousands of screaming fans. The thrill of an audience. It hits us right where we’re weakest, right where so many of us fall -- our inner being…our pride. All the while, we don’t realize we’re being led to the slaughter.

Every day, we see actors and musicians rise to fame too quickly and pay the price. And yet, we’re blind when we face these same temptations in our own lives.  At the age of 27 Amy Winehouse joined many others ending life all too early, and one can’t help but think that fame was one of the culprits. At the end of the day, fame is addictive.

The problem with any kind of influence is that once you build it, you have to maintain it. If you cut ethical corners to get to where you are, you’ll have to continue those patterns to continue having influence. While there’s nothing wrong with having a platform, the requirements of it can be costly.
For many of us, standing in front of an adoring audience would be exhilarating. Receiving a standing ovation in a crowded auditorium would be exciting. Getting a hundred people to re-tweet you on Twitter would feel good. Just the thought might give you a rush. This is the thrill of fame.

But the problem is that the feeling eventually goes away. And next time, you need a little more. And then a little bit more…just like every addiction.

You keep trying to top your last performance. You may even start performing solely for the cheers. But at some point, even that doesn’t feel that good anymore. And you start looking for exhilaration elsewhere.

Whether it is drugs or alcohol…research tells us that one addiction naturally leads to another. And an addiction is something that you have to keep feeding to feel normal. Fame is just that.

Anyone who knows what it means to be addicted knows that these obsessions ultimately consume you. Every thought, every craving, every waking moment becomes captive to the addiction. The irony is that you worked so hard to build an audience -- to influence people with your words, your music, and your art -- and now it owns you. What, at one time, was a vocation now consumes your identity. You become what you do.

So is all influence bad?

Of course not. It all depends on our motivation.

If you are seeking influence to merely be famous? You may find yourself on a path that leads to destruction. But if you seek to influence others for the sake of making their lives better because you, yourself have come to a place of peace & self-actualization…then your influence can be extremely powerful. However, as your influence grows, be cognizant of the temptations you face. Beware of the “performance mentality” and the thrill-seeking addictions of “fame”.

Alternatively, consider the possibility that may not actually need fame to do your life’s work. If, however, you do, be careful in how you attain it. Remember: whatever you build, you will have to maintain. 

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