No, I’m not planning on changing my profession this year, but I’ve been thinking about the word ‘rockstar’ – and the version I’m thinking of is not connected at all to tabloid shenanigans or the on-again-off-again love lives of popular singers. It’s something I’ve felt compelled to express when I see others handling particular circumstances or doing some pretty incredible things.
So while there be only handfuls of well-known rock names – Bowie, Jagger, Bono, Madonna and more – I feel there are many opportunities to channel our own inner rockstar to perform at peak, to influence or inspire, to throw it all out on stage and give a great show (of life, work, relationships, singing, anything!)
Let’s take a few minutes to look at some of the mental and emotional components and trends that may support the development of your own ‘star potential’ in whatever part of life you choose.
Stardom is a long road to travel…
Entertainer Eddie Cantor was quoted as saying, “it takes twenty years to be an overnight success”. While there are reality show phenomena or those ‘discovered’ and instantly promoted to upper echelons of notoriety, many of the ‘famous’ have been honing their craft for extended periods of time. Most people aren’t born with a ‘superstar’ gene (and many of the biggest performers are self-professed ‘shy’ people – even if they look, on stage, as anything but).
And while the traits of rockstardom may be foreign to most of us, there are aspects that can be learned and developed over time, through practicing, dreaming, focusing, “obsessing”, hustling… and done while knowing that the chances of making it ‘big’ are slim to none.
What makes the risk worth it? For some it might be keeping in mind all the benefits of stardom – and with the sweet picture of success in clear focus through the ups and downs, ‘keeping at it’ seems a lot more relevant. I’ve also seen this over and over with successful clients developing and aiming for their targeted goals – with great success, too.
Can YOU do this in your daily life? Of course – the mind’s ability to imagine, especially when combined with emotional power (feeling it, not just ‘seeing’ it), can maintain our perseverance towards an idea or outcome. And as we continue to do so, the fact that we find ourselves on the road towards this objective tends to increase our discipline or aligns us with our positive trajectory.
Without action, imagination can just be a dream unrealized; however, the combination of an internalized and meaningful vision, combined with taking steps towards it, increases our chance at success.
While external rewards may be compelling, one of the choruses voiced by successful rockstars in interviews is the existence of an internal drive or passion – for expression, for the music, the performance. This very personal conviction and motivation tends to be one of the factors that support and guide individuals to even greater heights.
While you may not have a tune in your head that needs to be shared with the world, there may be other skills or expertise that you feel committed to working on – for yourself or others. It may be with work, hobbies, sports, relationships… even if you deny or ignore this inner expression, it feels like it can’t be contained, that it must be expressed.
Even if it sounds or feels ‘silly’, that underlying interest may return (to mind) again and again, begging you to articulate it and put it ‘on stage’. Do you have a nagging urge to explore an area of yourself that keeps arising, even when logic would suggest you forget it? Give yourself permission to follow that call, in some way or another, to discover how your inner motivators may positively affect your outer reality.
“As a rock star, I have two instincts. I want to have fun, and I want to change the world. I have a chance to do both.” Bono
Rockstars aren’t cookie cutters
What do Jimmy Buffet, Gene Simmons, and Lady Gaga have in common? Ok, there may be a couple similarities (hard work, commitment, attitude), but other than being well known performers, they all have their own individual ‘voices’ that make them stand out.
You may have heard of some flash-in-the-pan artists who were summerised as ‘another ______’ who always had to live in the shadows of the more well known incarnation. Or maybe you don’t know them anymore as their ‘me-too’ approach is so forgettable.
While we can truly benefit from learning from others and emulating their successful ways and habits, we must be cautious about losing ourselves and becoming someone else, because you have something in common with a rockstar.
You are unique. Uniquely different from others and while it might feel ‘safer’ to minimize your quirks, sometimes it is these peculiarities are what makes you charismatic, delightful or fascinating. Is Mick Jagger the ‘best’ singer in the world? You may agree or not, but most people will concur that his style of singing is distinct in any case. And because of that, he has been influential on the scene for decades. We all have our very individual set of characteristics that make up who we are, and sometimes we need to celebrate our differences, rather than depress them.
Yet there may be a cost in being different, being yourself. You may get booed. You may get disregarded. You may not be liked by everyone. And for some, this is a loss too great to even consider taking a risk for. But, looking at another example in the past, Mozart and Beethoven also had their ‘haters’ and they were the rockstars of their times. Their music is ‘classical’ now, and they changed the landscape of music that was being composed by their contemporaries. They made a difference to the way people heard music. And that continues in rock and life today.
Accompanying the possibility of being less-than-adored by all, is the opportunity of charting a new path, a new way of doing or being, another option, a new audience that is just waiting for you to voice what you need to say. By taking a stand, in any area or role, you’ll elicit reaction from others. And while some may be disapproving, you’ll also discover your fans.
Jazz clarinetist Buddy DeFranco said “everybody that listens to something hears it differently from their own perspective. And you can’t please everyone. Don’t even try.” And I think there’s a valid point in it – we can’t hear/see/experience/value what others do through their own unique filters and experiences. We can’t ‘make’ everyone like us, even if we try to fit in.
What makes you, you? Is it your dry wit, your nurturing attitude, your sense of style? When you do something that others do, what makes it different, valuable or memorable? How do you not fit into a mould that maybe you shouldn’t be aiming to fit in anyway? When you start thinking like a rockstar, you can begin to see weaknesses as strengths, eccentricities as unique expressions, and sharing them as extending a hand to those who would like to hear you just as you are.
“For years, I’ve had a hankering for the portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Duplessis. Franklin is credited with so many inventions: the postal system, lightning rods, the constitution. He was a rock star before there was such a thing.” Jon Bon Jovi
You can’t be a rockstar without…
Supporters. This may be a band or instrument or other resources – getting the right tools around you is important.
Yet, as the metaphorical tree that falls in the forest, without someone to hear it, does it make a sound? We need an audience to give us the feedback – to develop, to grow, to work at being great at whatever we do. An empty arena is a rockstar’s nightmare, yet we need to check ourselves to make sure we’re attracting and influencing in good ways as well.
And while some performers may act the ‘enfant terrible’ or seem to hate their devotees, many of the lasting and successful know how important their fan base is to the role they play on stage. Have you ever been to a great concert? It tends to be one that involves not only the musicians performing but also the masses ‘below’, engaged and included. I’ve heard that sometimes the reactions of the crowd will inspire stellar, one-of-a-kind performances – and together they transcend the set to become an ‘event’.
This symbiotic relationship plays out in our day-to-day. We need to provide value for others, even as we do our ‘own thing’. Each of us has our own skill set that may serve as an anthem to another – to guide, to inspire, to clarify, or hold in some way. As we perform our own numbers and set, we may provide a spark to help others get on their way. We may receive some encouragement or feedback from those we are playing to – as communication is 100% responsibility of both the speaker and the listener.
A rockstar has the confidence to be at the center of a little world, but is humble enough to know that without others, that world wouldn’t exist. When we find and give our best to our supporters, we tend to discover more about ourself and do even better in the future.
“The cliche of what a rock star is – there’s something elitist about it. I never related to that. I’m an entertainer. I think of it as, you’re performing for people. It’s not a self-glorification thing.” Beck
Stars are human too
Rockstars don’t have to be ‘bulletproof’ or super-human. However with their inner motivation to guide them, commitment over the long term, resilience developed through the ups and downs of good and poor performances, and finding a network of others who appreciate their uniqueness and assets, stars tend to shine in their ‘bullet-resistance’.
After a long tour they may come home to be a husband/wife, parent, son/daughter, friend or community leader.
And sometimes the ‘other’ roles that rockstars play may end up making them feel more ‘star-like’ than they do on a concert circuit (with a million screaming fans). I know that I am star-struck by the power and resilience of others whom I regard as idols in their own way. And you’ve probably been a superstar to someone else, whether you’ve recognized it or not.
In spite of the highs that come from being a rockstar, they are not immune to bad days too. Even with all of the glamour of the stage, many performers have suffered from shyness, despair, anger, fear, confusion and loneliness. These are emotions that can happen to anyone, no matter how high flying you may be. We’ve heard unhappy endings about rockstars who haven’t gotten the help they need, and I encourage people to resource their support network or get professional help if they are feeling challenged in ways they can’t handle themselves. Remember that real stars burn in the sky for a long, long time.
Friedrich Nietzsche is quoted, “one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star” and in that I extract that the ups and downs of life, the lessons and learnings that we give and take, create a perfect opportunity for us to discover our own uniqueness, our own performer, our own (rock)star.
I applaud you. Whether you realize it or not, you’re putting on a great show so far!…
Jennifer (one of your biggest fans)