Why Chasing Fame Doesn’t Work to Build Your Career

John Sowers

One of the unsaid promises of social media is: you can be famous. If you get enough followers, fans, likes, retweets, then you can make your book, blog, movie, band, idea – go. So we focus on making big enough tribes, creating big enough platforms, so our idea will fly. We delve into:

Twitter – Facebook – Instagram – Pinterest – YouTube – MySpace – LinkedIn – Jumbalaya – Vimeo – Google Plus – WordPress – OmniCron – Tumblr

We work hard on our personal brand.
Squeeze into skinny jeans.
Build our street cred.
Get head shots.

We create clever titles for ourselves, then humbly put them in our social media description: Fashionista. International Word Maven. Social Media Expert Pro. World Renowned Superstar. Others go a different route to fame and become qualified critics. If we criticize vigorously enough, we think, maybe they’ll pay attention and allow us a guest seat at their table of fame.

Our great temptation as creatives is to focus on hype and not our creation. When we lose this focus, we become peddlers of hollow ideas. This is the myth of the empty platform. All smoke and fluff, pomp and title. No substance. Platforms are great, but once you’re standing up there, you really need something to say. Don’t buy into the myth. Instead…

Relentlessly fight for your idea.

Grow it. Protect it. Draw a Police Do Not Cross line around it. Do everything to become better at your craft. Go to seminars. Read books. Develop your talent. Be teachable. Find a coach. A mentor. Don’t get diverted or distracted. Stay on course.

*Photo by Marcin Wichary, Creative Commons

Steve Jobs asks this question, “You know how you see a show car, and it’s really cool, and then four years later you see the production car and it sucks? And you think, what happened? They had it! They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

What happened is this: the designers came up with a great idea. Then they took it to the engineers and the engineers said, ‘Nah, we can’t do that. That’s impossible.’ The idea gets worse. Then the manufacturing people say, ‘We can’t build that.’ And it gets a lot worse.”

The key, according to Jobs, is to get your idea from concept car to the conveyor belt. This takes ferocious resolve. Your idea won’t cross the finish line if you lose focus. Or if you are focused on hype. Don’t buy into the myth of the empty platform. Don’t tell people they should love your idea. Build the iPhone. Then let them fall in love with the little robot you put in their pocket.

Now is a great time to start. “Amateurs,” according to Stephen King, “sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.”

John Sowers

John Sowers

This is a post by John Sowers, one of the Storyline Contributors. John has just released his latest book, The Heroic Path: In Search of the Masculine Heart. Learn more about John's story by visiting his website or by following along on Twitter (@johnsowers).