DON’T JUST BE FAMOUS, BE GREAT!
A Challenge to All Who Have Achieved Fame
By Wendy A Ward, MD
Fame does not ensure greatness, nor does greatness ensure fame. The two are not and will never be equal. True greatness is when one acts with the intention of doing things that not only benefit one self, but benefit others as well, without the need or motivation to be recognized for it!
-Wendy A Ward, MD
You’ve achieved your life long dream of becoming famous. Congratulations! You are among a glorious minority, for only a very select few achieve the status of “fame”. From the silver screen in Hollywood to baseball fields, rinks and the “hardwood”, you’ve arrived! You’re not only famous, but rich as well. You’re feeling good, no, great about yourself. You’re confident! In fact, it would safe to say, a good bit of the time you’re kind of cocky as you look down from that lofty mountain you been so fortunate to climb and stand on top of. The world is your oyster and you know it! The truth is, whether we have the opportunity to become famous or not, “ego” rules most of us. We all want to be “famous” or “recognized” for our accomplishments no matter how small or how grand that accomplishment is. The desire for fame and the need to have our “ego” stroked starts earlier than any of us can remember. It’s innate in all of us and no one is exempt. A baby seeks the approval of those around her when she takes her first step, says his first word, uses the potty for the first time. As the praise and applause flow from the captive audience, the baby is hooked for life! “It’s all about me” the baby thinks, and why shouldn’t “she”? Why shouldn’t “he”? That baby has learned that if she “performs” well, she will gain the approval from those around her. He will become obsessed with performing, just so he can continuously illicit that wave of praise and applause that validates who he is, celebrates his accomplishments and strokes his newly discovered “ego”! However, for most of us, that elusive “fame” lasts for a disappointingly brief moment and for only a select few, will fame last for a lifetime.
While your “star” is brilliantly shining, you can’t even fathom the fact that a time will come when everyone who used to shake, shiver or scream just by the sight of you, will barely remember your name. The sad truth is, fame, no matter how famous you become, is often fleeting. As you stand on top of your mountain and proclaim “the world is mine”, Father Time, who has been insidiously planning your demise, quietly sneaks up behind you. You’ve been so fixated on yourself and the grandeur of your own importance, that you never even noticed that he’s been following you around constantly, like a shadow. With one swift kick, Father Time knocks your feet from under you. You gradually begin to tumble down that mountain. At first, you are so caught up with your own fabulous image, that you hardly notice your initial descent, or perhaps, choose not to notice it. As time goes on, you gain momentum and fall more quickly down your mountain. The problem is, once you begin to fall, people can’t see you like they once did, when you were on top of the world. They don’t help you because they are now focusing on another who is making their ascent up “your” mountain. Before you can hit the ground at the bottom of the mountain, someone else has already climbed up “your” mountain and taken your place. The “fame” that was once yours, now belongs to someone else. You didn’t realize or think about the fact that “fame is just like leasing a Pinto, but greatness, is like owning a Bentley!” (Wendy A. Ward, MD). Unlike fame, greatness is immune to the effects of Father Time!
Let’s face it. Everyone wants to be remembered, especially those of us who have had the opportunity to achieve fame. Even after your “star” isn’t shining as brightly as it once did, or perhaps not shining at all, you’d still like to know that your mere “presence” still has the ability to make people shake, shiver and scream, or at least say to you in recognition, “ aren’t you so and so?”. That’s just human nature. Remember the example about baby? Unfortunately, for the few in society that have the opportunity to achieve fame, only a handful of you will have the good fortune to rise to the top of your craft and be remembered long after the “lights” go out. That will leave the majority of you craving and longing for the recognition and attention you once received when you were at the top of your “game”. You won’t even realize how important being recognized is to you until it’s gone. You know what they say! You never miss the water until the well runs dry!
Let’s go back to the beginning, before Father Time has the chance to ambush you. You are living a fabulous and glamorous life that most people can only dream about. Think about the quote I mentioned at the beginning regarding the difference between fame and greatness. You’ve been blessed with gifts that have allowed you to become famous. You may not realize it yet, but as a result of that fact, each of you has been blessed with a rare and phenomenal opportunity! That opportunity is to not only “be famous” (lease a Pinto), but to be “great” (own a Bentley) as well! In case you didn’t know, “ye who receives many gifts, of you much shall be required” (Anonymous). Truth be told, most of us will never be famous, and few of us seek out the opportunity to be great. You have been placed in the rare and enviable position to achieve both! As a result, you can single-handedly, “several” people at a time, positively influence and change the world making it a better place than when you arrived. As your reward, you will be remembered, revered and honored forever, not just by your expected “fan base”, but also by those whom you never expected to know you at all! Imagine how amazing you will feel, knowing that you have made a positive and significant difference in the lives of countless people! You have earned the right to take your place in history, just by actively and aggressively seeking to achieve greatness! You have consciously chosen not to waste the precious gifts and opportunities you’ve been so richly given. Let’s examine this dynamic in more detail.
You’re rich! You’re famous! People, especially children, idolize you! From a material standpoint, you can, for the most part, have anything you want, do anything you want, and go anyplace that you want. You live an undeniably envied life! You may do community service, but let’s face it. Some of you may do it because you feel you have to do it and not necessarily because you want to do it. It’s mandated by your league or your public relations person. If left up to you, it probably wouldn’t rank high or at all on your list of things to do. Some of you do the least amount necessary because it interferes with your life. You’d rather spend time doing things for yourself, like spending your money on “you” and enjoying the “privileged” life fame has brought you. Some of you would prefer to just give money if you have to do something. It’s easier to give money. That way, you could “give back” without being inconvenienced. There’s nothing wrong with giving money. That’s great also. So by all means, please continue to do that! However, why don’t you consider this: what if you went “beyond” the call of duty and gave just a little bit more “time”. Notice I said more “time”. Maybe even just 30 minutes a week of your “own” time. It doesn’t have to be anything formal. You don’t have to prepare a speech or give a class. Just chat!
I talk a lot about “time”. Think about it. “Time” is the most genuine and selfless gift anyone could ever give. Unlike anything else, time is the only thing that anyone can give but will never ever get back. Although money is a wonderful gift to give, time, in the long run, is a much more valuable gift to give than money could ever be. It has a much greater impact than money could ever have. Only “time”, not money, gives you the opportunity to truly help people become self-empowered. “Time” gives you the opportunity to motivate, inspire, encourage! That’s priceless! Like the biblical story states, if you “give” a person a fish, they eat for a day. However, if you “teach” a person to fish, they eat for a lifetime. Money at times only serves to “give” a person a fish. Spending “quality time” with someone allows you to “teach” that person to fish. When you give someone your “time”, you are actually telling that person that they are a special, valuable and important, for they are “worth” your time! This builds up their self esteem, self worth and self love, which are the foundation and precursors to self-empowerment. You have the distinct privilege to make a positive investment in the future of another human being and the distinct privilege to make a positive investment in the future of the world! That’s powerful!
The truth is, our world, whether you care to acknowledge it or not, is in crisis. Hatred, violence and war reflected inward toward ourselves and outward toward others is running rampant across the globe. Many of you may not feel this affects you. The sad reality is that none of us are safe. It affects us all, be it directly or indirectly, no matter who we are, where we are or where we go. Regardless of your social status, color, creed, race, religion, beliefs etc, you are affected by these things. Ask the family of Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins, or Marcus Camby of the Denver Nuggets, Eddy Curry of the New York Knicks or Dr. William Petit, Jr. whose wife and daughters were murdered in Cheshire, Connecticut. Their status and wealth did not protect them or their family from the hatred and violence in this world.
The major source of all this negativity is the lack of “love” in the world which leads to low self esteem and low self worth. Low self esteem and self worth lead to lack of self love and self respect. Lack of self love and self respect lead to self hatred, insecurity and anger, hence the inability to love and respect others. The inability to love and respect others leads to violence and war. The result of all these things is no inner peace hence no “outer” or world peace. Without peace we are all lost because all of our energy is focused on the struggle for power. We become so distracted that we can’t even entertain our dreams. As a result, we can’t fulfill our destiny and make the world a happy, productive and peaceful place. This terrible chain of events must be broken or all of us will suffer. No one is exempt from the perilous consequences.
The children, our most precious and valuable commodity, are our future. It is the responsibility of all of us, not just you my famous friends, to serve as positive role models for the children. It is our duty to mentor them, inspire them, motivate them, encourage them, teach them and let them know how valuable and special they truly are. We all must aspire to be “great”!
However, I make a special appeal to you, my famous friends, because lets face it. Your fame gives you global visibility and credibility. People, especially children, automatically idolize and admire you. Without requiring any proof, they give you the benefit of the doubt, that you are a good and awesome person. You automatically have their respect and attention. This is another privilege of fame, which is perfect! As a result, you possess the distinct ability to reach and touch “many” people at a time, all over the world without the limitations or borders that non-famous people face. As a result, you are not only in the “position” to break the negative chain of events that threaten to destroy all of humanity, but you have the “power” to break this chain of events at a greater and faster rate than those of us who are not famous. Together, as a team, we can quickly restore the world to a loving, happy, compassionate, cohesive and peaceful place, where all of us “win”.
So, by merely spending just a little bit of “time” with the children, you let them know they are loved, valuable and worthy. They feel loved, valuable and worthy. They now have within their possession the necessary tools, resources and desire, to dream, become self empowered and fulfill their destiny. Our “future” is preserved and world peace is established, all because of a little thing called “time”. “Your” time! You can proudly take your rightful place in history for you will have achieved “true greatness”! Remember, fame is “terminal” but greatness is “eternal”. You are now immune to the erosive effects of Father Time because you had the courage and determination to accept this challenge and boldly step into your “greatness”. You are now a “real” hero for you have become a Gladiator for Self-Empowerment and Peace!
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