I recently came across an article entitled, “Kids Want Fame More Than Anything,” and it made me realize something.
My generation is seriously fucked.
There’s this trend (moreso in my generation) of wanting to look and be famous.
Not be the best basketball player in the world, which is a skill you have to earn.
Not being an incredible musician who can move people to tears, which takes work.
Not becoming a legendary doctor who changes the system and saves people, which takes guts.
“… I don’t care, I just want to be famous.”
The Most Misguided Generation Since… Ever?
The internet makes the “fame trap” easy.
I’ve confidentially spoken to dozens and dozens of people online, mostly wantrepreneurs, who look famous and successful… and yet aren’t.
The number of entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with, with 3,000, or 5,000 (maxed out) friend counts on Facebook, who are still working jobs (that no one else knows about) is staggering.
3,000 friends, posting inspirational, “I am a thoughtleader” type information… still going into their marketing job, who haven’t even made $5,000 in revenue in a true business.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Talking about their millions of views on all the major platforms now – Quora, Huffpost, Instagram.
Mentioning all the “big name” websites they’ve written for.
Name dropping their connection at the last big event.
Always sharing these new and exciting projects they’re working on (to look big)… and yet don’t even have a business.
Not a real business…
NO business. Zero dollars.
It’s scary. But it’s scary because it’s easy.
It’s easy to look famous now.
It’s a whole lot fucking harder to do something that really matters, to get in the arena, to build an actual business, to create something worth creating.
What if the Icons of History Realized They Were Famous Enough – Then Stopped?
Can you imagine if Albert Einstein, after having won the nobel prize said, “you know what? I got this physics shit down. I won. Look how famous I am? Screw figuring out the forces of the universe, I want to take it easy.”
Can you imagine if Mozart was good enough – there he is as a little teenager – playing to royalty throughout Europe and thought:
“Nahh. This music shit is boring. I already made it.”
Can you imagine if Elon Musk built paypal, made $20 million dollars, and then decided:
There would be no Tesla.
There would be no Spacex.
And all the myriad other creations he’ll produce in his lifetime wouldn’t show up. All because he already “made it,” was famous enough, and was loved by the world.
Sometimes though, looking like you’re a big deal is insidious for one reason – it’s easier to look big, like you’ve done something, than it is to actually do the thing. It’s a fucking shitload easier.
Of course, being a spectator of the gladiators in the arena is always easier than bleeding in the arena itself.
It’s Easy to Look Big, Without Having Earned the Punches in Your Face
image: Bryan Berzer
I love the armchair trolls and talkers online.
It’s like someone in an internet forum saying they’re gonna be the next Lebron James. Surprisingly, as someone who has never watched sports, I still appreciate sports analogies.
Top athletes regularly train at least five hours a day, seven days a week, not including outside events. This is not “reading a book,” and analyzing their game, this is taking shots and sweating their asses off.
How long has Lebron been playing basketball? Since he was 9 years old. Do the math on the decades in-between.
And people have the guts to say, “I’ll be the next Lebron, Elon Musk, Mozart” before they’ve even spent a week in the arena.
You haven’t been punched in the face ONCE in the arena. You haven’t even STEPPED in the fucking arena.
There are gladiators bleeding, getting stabbed, their throats slit, and you have the balls to even say you’re IN the arena? You’re on the fucking bleechers eating grapes and drinking wine, watching everyone else bleed while they do the work.
You don’t deserve to be called a gladiator.
That’s what doing shit that matters is all about.
Stop telling people about what you plan to do, and fucking show it. Talking about it takes ten seconds, but showing it takes ten years.
Talking about becoming a “famous vlogger” you can share in a conversation over wine.
Doing it until you can quit your job? That could be 3 years. 5 years. 7 years. 10 years.
Talking about getting ripped and losing weight is cheap. 90% of us do that every single year during the new year.
Doing the work though?
That takes countless nights in the gym, untold hundreds of hours making meals, years of no progress, years of self-doubt, wondering if you’re ever going to make it a reality and “get there.”
It’s Easier to Look Famous Than Build a Real Business
These same people are sometimes the same goddamn humans launching coaching programs, on how they built their “lifestyle” with the views they got.
Behind the scenes, many of these people haven’t even earned $3,000 a month in fucking revenue.
Most of them don’t even work full-time in their business, or, there’s a catch.
They end up being yet another person selling their circle-jerk, “here I am in Thailand… but two years ago… this wasn’t possible” product.
Meanwhile, they don’t tell you that their rent costs $200 USD a month and they only make $500 a month.
It’s “Easier” To Pursue Fame, Than to do Something That Will Matter When You’re Dead
“Do you think they know I’m not wearing pants under this desk?”
You can’t self-appoint yourself a thought leader.
What’s up with the linkedin profiles entitled, “thought leader in XYZ…” motherfucker, does your mom address you as “thought leader?”
“Thought leader, come down for dinner, honey! The meatloaf is ready.”
The icons of generations wanted to create something incredible.
Frederick Henry Royce wanted to create the most luxurious car.
Einstein deeply pondered the invisible forces that work in our universe.
Nikola Tesla worked up to 20 hours per day, because he was fascinated with the electrical forces in the universe, with the possibility of transmitting messages at a distance, or even sending forces through the earth.
Michelle Phan loved makeup and wanted to film creative and day-to-day makeup videos for her fans, because she didn’t see them online.
Elon Musk wanted to create products that never had been done before – pouring his entire personal fortune into projects like Tesla which originally lost almost his entire wealth.
Jk Rowling had stories inside that she wanted to share, that she felt called to write.
Very few of these individuals, at least when they began, were concerned with any measure of fame.
They wanted to do shit that mattered.
Things that mattered to them.
Things that mattered to the world.
Can you imagine if they said, “fuck it, I’m going on vacation. I’m not being recognized with my 1 million followers… this is a waste of time.”
Can you imagine if Elon was like, “wow, everyone thinks electric cars are stupid? Okay, I’m gonna hangout and play video games.”
Can you imagine if Jk Rowling stopped writing after her first book because – god forbid – it didn’t blow up?
The truth is that fame is a poison when pursued directly, and a pleasant side effect (at best) when it’s the unintended side effect of pursuing your personal legend.
The Ultimate Hollowness of Pursuing Fame
Some of the publicity of this fame-pursuing arose recently when an Australian instagrammer and “model” talked about how pursuing internet fame made her miserable and ruined her life.
Somehow, people were awstruck by this.
And yet, I’ve seen myself, and so many of my friends, be pushed to the brink of suicide, because we compare ourselves to the apparent jet, money, and freedom lifestyle we see other people and entrepreneurs having.
You know the most fucked up part?
I’ve met many of those people who I thought had an epic life, bigger, better, more glamorous than me.
And I was shocked to find that sometimes, it was all a ruse. An illusion. Some of them were struggling and in massive debt. Some of them bragged about million dollar businesses, who hardly took home $50k per year.
Sometimes, it’s all smoke and mirrors.
But, there’s something deeper.
Can you imagine if you spent your entire life pursuing fame?
Like the chronically insecure LA-transplant who just wants to be recognized – for no purpose other than his or her lack of self-esteem.
The irony is that when you pursue fame to the exclusion of everything else, you realize something interesting.
You get to the end of your life and realize the worst thing of all: your life didn’t matter.
You were replaceable.
People were no better off, thanks to you being alive.
It literally did not matter – as if we were yet another ant on the planet.
Maybe Jen Selter is thrilled she makes the big bucks for taking a picture of her ass every day – she should be. I wonder what she thinks about at night though, about the impact she has on the world.
Are little girls thinking, “YEAH! I need to improve myself and work harder for a better life.”
Or are they thinking, “Wow, maybe I should get a nose job too. My ass looks so small compared to hers. I wonder what beauty products she uses?”
Is that impact?
Maybe all of the above.
What if You Gave a Shit About Your Legacy… More than Your Follower Count?
I think this generation needs a new manifesto.
I saw myself get incredibly depressed from this social media pissing contest, before realizing how much artifice exists in that world.
I saw my closest friend commit suicide over entrepreneurship, the ups and downs of life, and the constant comparison trap.
And I see it in so many of my friends, coaching clients, and other entrepreneurs who desperately want to “seem big” and be accepted, and be the “thought leader,” without realizing these are things that you earn.
In a world where you can now become famous for posting pictures of your ass ten times a day.
In a world where kids now just want to be famous… rather than do something of value (or something they view as their “Personal Legend.”).
In a world where insecure millenials are crying for attention, and are too fucking impatient to do something that matters.
What if you were the difference?
What if you treated fame like a bonus?
What if you focused on the work YOU think matters – whether it’s just building schools in the third world, starting your own business, writing a book or manifesto on something you care about, or going after your passion.
What if you pursued your personal legend, the work you feel called to do, even if you felt afraid? What if you finally stepped in the arena and became a gladiator?
What if we all modeled ourselves after the greats of the generations? The Teslas, the Einsteins, the Darwins.
What if this generation was more concerned with doing something that matters, rather than just being famous for nothing?
Images: Mike Tyson