Why The Mighty Fall

With the John Edwards trial continuing in North Carolina this week and Tiger missing the cut at our Charlotte tournament last week, I’m reminded of the dynamics that usually occur when famous performers make life altering mistakes in their personal lives. I’ve worked with many of these clients and there is usually a fairly typical progression. When one of these events occurs, people often ask me questions such as “How could this person be so dumb to throw it all away like that?”

It takes a great deal of confidence to be a performer at the highest level. You must believe you are talented enough to beat the best in the world. As performers achieve greater success they are treated even more specially. They get the best seats in the most crowded restaurants, front row seats at sporting events, fly in private jets, have people lining up to be their romantic partners, etc. Their world becomes a playground, often at very young ages. I don’t know about you, but at my maturity level in my early 20s I don’t think I would have handled that type of lifestyle very well!

These dynamics create a sense of entitlement. The most successful performers unconsciously begin to believe they truly deserve the special treatment they are receiving. It is repayment for all their hard work and the success they have accomplished. They come to believe the rules the rest of us have to abide by do not apply to them. In reality, there is a bit of truth to that. Over time, the behavior escalates and becomes more risky as events remain undiscovered and unpunished. The one event that causes the fall is not an isolated incident. It is the result of a process that has been years in the making. That is why the public does not understand how a performer can be so “dumb” from their perspective.

So if you are a very talented performer how can you be one of the best in the world and avoid getting sucked into this self-destructive process?

  • Understand your talent is God given. Yes, you have worked very hard to get where you are. But that would not have been possible without the gift of talent you had nothing to do with. You are no better than the best carpenter, teacher or mechanic in the world just because your talent made you famous.
  • Keep your confidence while you’re performing. It’s ok to feel that no one is better than you during your performance.  When the performance is over, understand that you are no better than anyone else. Rather, you are extremely fortunate and blessed to have been given the success you’ve achieved.
  • Surround yourself with trusted advisors, not a posse full of “yes people” who are getting their own needs met by associating with you.  Your most trusted business advisors and associates should not need you in order to be successful. If they do, you are headed for a fall. Your closest friends and family members should be able to tell you like it is for your best interest, not theirs.

It is possible to be one of the best performers in the world and avoid the big fall. But you need the balance between confidence when you are performing and humility and gratitude when you are not.

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