Posted by: Brad Stanford | July 6, 2015

Succesful People Are Weird

Soon, my business plans will require a trip to Las Vegas. Naturally, I immediately thought of Heaven Or Las Vegas by the Cocteau Twins. The album was released in September of 1990, making it almost 25 years old as of this writing. It was the best selling Cocteau Twins album of all time, with raving reviews.

I was introduced to the Cocteau Twins’ music by Brandon Oldenburg when both of us were working at Reel FX. And for that introduction, I owe him…something. I’m not sure how to repay a friend for a life-changing experience. But change my life it did, and I am grateful.

As the introduction of the web allowed us to track down our favorite music and learn more about the songs and musicians, I was able to look at famously unintelligible lyrics by Elizabeth Fraser and get further enjoyment out of music that I had enjoyed just fine to this point without fully understanding what was being sung.

Often, we look to rich and/or famous people for a checklist that will lead us to the riches and/or fame for ourselves. But we often forget a fundamental fact about such stand-outs in society: creative people are weird.

That may not be a revelation to you, but I think we’ve missed out on the impact of that obvious conclusion. Put another way, if someone excels in a talent, there are going to be issues there. Might not be bad issues, but there are going to be issues. The reason someone is producing something un-mediocre is because they aren’t normal to begin with.

I think most people are on a search for the successful normal person. Someone with a normal childhood, a normal family, and a traditional celebration of traditional holidays, all the while being rich and famous. Each time someone rises to the top, somebody thinks, “There! That person! They look normal. What’s their secret? Will it work for me?”

The great irony is that we’re looking to solve our problems by following the lives of people who would not be who they are without massive problems. So where we see a checklist of, “Write a hit song, make a million bucks,” the real checklist starts with, “Have a personality and childhood that cause you to be weird, and have to struggle with life in various ways.”

The only checklist that is transferrable in my opinion is:

  1. Recognize your problems.
  2. Face them.
  3. Express that struggle out loud.

Success comes out of struggle. It is maintained through difficulty. If you’re looking for a day when you have become “successful” and it stays that way effortlessly, you are on a fool’s errand. Life isn’t like that.

Successful people are weird. If you wish to be more successful than you are, increase your weirdness.

Put another way: figure out how to be the you-est you you can possibly be.

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