Sometimes there’s a confluence of stuff that starts to happen. He mentions this, a few days later you read something, then a friend brings it up, too, and sooner or later you put the good old pieces together and see that there’s a bigger picture emerging.
It’s become what my internet friends (and various teenagers) tell me is called a meme.
So let me tell you about the meme I’m seeing.
For me, it started with Lisa de Moraes’ July 15th article in the Washington Post called “The Key To Reality-TV Superstardom? It’s All About Being Larger Than Life.”
“For a cast member to really give breakout performances, it’s critical that he or she has been born without the self-edit gene. ‘They have to be completely unguarded — if they’re a recessive character, they’re never going to make it to season four or five,’ noted Damla Dogan, VP at E! Entertainment Television.”
I was actually horrified at this idea. Larger than life, my dears, is how the Snooki-fication, too much information-ification, the oh-my-god-can-you-believe-that, train wreck of television has occurred.
But it’s just not in TV that we’re urged to be larger than life. Business “gurus” tell us the same thing. “Go big, or go home” – ever heard that before? I spoke with a disappointed woman recently who paid $15,000 to such a guru for a year’s worth of
fawning training in How To Go Big. Unfortunately, the only place the big money is rolling in is to the shiny, pretty, unavailable guru who’s depositing all those $15,000 checks.
I don’t know about you, but I am fatigued with shiny, pretty. I am tired of empty promises and vague premises. I am sick to my stomach when I think about self-proclaimed, fast-talking experts taking advantage of good, maybe even slightly desperate, people who just want to grow a good business.
I am finished with those whose only motto seems to be “Shout loudly and carry a big schtick.”
Maybe it’s just my own, well-developed spidey-sense that sniffs out over-weening ego. Because that’s what I think most of this is really all about. Go-big rah-rah’ers are often walking fabulists who want other people to
fawn, adore, worship work with them solely to reinforce their self-perception of fabulousity.
Which almost always includes an admonishment that you, too, must be larger than life to succeed. Hey, you want to be on TV, don’t you?
I was pondering this when my after-my-own-heart friend Fabeku Fatunmise wrote this excellent post: Go Big. Or Not. He said:
“But what I think really sucks is the subtle (or not) implication that if you’re not going big that you’re f-ing up. That you’re cheating yourself. Or your audience. Or the world. That you’re a lamer. Or, even more craptastic, a poseur. That, somehow, if you’re not taking epic leaps every single day then you’re just a spineless looooooooooooooser.”
Say it, brother.
A few days ago, my friend Kathy Korman Frey, a Harvard MBA and entrepreneurship professor, wrote a post where she says, “The old ‘get-obsessed-and-do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-it-done’ part of me is possibly gone, or on hiatus.” Now, if you know Kathy, you know she has more energy in her pinkie than do many small nations. But what she’s asking is right in line with the meme – given the realities of my life: what suits me? What is good enough? What is big enough?
And here’s the dealio – it’s always up to you. You decide what’s big enough, what’s good enough, what matters to you. No guru, regardless of how much you pay him or her, knows you better than you know yourself.
I recently had a young woman client say to me in frustration about her job search: “Would you just tell me what to do?” Know what? I’m not gonna. What I am going to do is help you discover your strengths, honor your priorities, center in your values and get absolutely clear on who you are. After you know that, you are going to know what’s right for you.
And it may or may not be big.
But I trust you. Whatever you choose is going to be fine.