I can remember as a young child watching “The Jackson Five” on our 4 station television (ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS) and from the beginning, everyone knew that Michael was the star. Later, when I was in high school and he began his solo career, his stardom rose to dizzying heights. When his album, Thriller, was released, MTV was just coming of age and Michael was able to ride that wave to super-stardom.
Looking back on his life, I’ve realized some of the immense differences between him and myself, and no, I’m not just talking the obvious differences in ability (dancing, singing, songwriting, etc.), I’m talking about the differences in how we chose to live our lives and how we viewed ourselves. Indeed, there were some stark differences and some rules to live by to avoid becoming a rich, detached soul.
Rule #1: Stay normal. Normal can mean a wide array of things, but no one can convince me that it’s normal to live with a chimpanzee, grab your crotch in public, or leak untruths to tabloids just for the publicity.
There’s nothing wrong with pushing the envelope, but part of the growing up process means you know when you’re taking it too far.
Rule #2: Stay young but grow up. I can be young at heart and stay playful, youthful, and healthy, but I have to grow up and make wise decisions based on experience and what I learn from others. Part of growing up is realizing I have to be the one to make a decision and stop relying on others to make it for me.
Grown-ups make grown-up decisions and maturity doesn’t equate with infirmity. Grown-ups handle disappointment and learn lessons through experience and counsel.
Rule #3: Love doesn’t mean attention. Just because you garner attention for your off-the-wall antics doesn’t mean people care about you as a person. If you’re an oddity, and you pursue that public persona, don’t be surprised if they lose interest when you start acting like a grown-up.
All publicly rich people get lots of attention … it’s because other people want their money. Attention doesn’t mean admiration, respect, and care.
Rule #4: Be more of an open book. When you consciously decide to create an aura of mystery around yourself, rather than just BE yourself, you lose sight of who you really are. Once you lose sight of that, you can be convinced of almost anything.
Rule #5: Money and fame cannot buy self esteem. Every famous and wealthy person will attest that no amount of money or fame can quell that still small voice inside that constantly wonders, “Am I good enough? Am I loved? Am I worth anything?” Self-esteem comes from knowing who you are on the inside and making the conscious decision to be comfortable with it.
Money reveals who you are … and amplifies it
Fame and fortune don’t force you to become someone different, they only reveal who you really were all along. If you were unsure of yourself before, $500 million dollars won’t help. If you were a poor money manager before, loads of cash will only highlight your poor management abilities. As a matter of fact, a lack of money can be the best thing to happen to you if it forces you to learn and use self discipline!
Star studded entertainers and celebrities have life thrust upon them – money, fame, advisers, publicists, agents, and a herd of people who claim to have the star’s best interest at heart when they probably have their own best interests at heart. Later, the celebrity finds that they can’t trust anyone. It must be miserable.
The key for me is to slow down, ask myself what I really want out of life, answer that question truthfully, and work out a plan to achieve it, all while being true to myself and my values and keeping my feet firmly planted in reality.
What about you? What lessons can you learn?
My condolences go out to the Jackson family and to the children.