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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

It’s Better to Be Nobody Than Somebody

It’s Better to Be Nobody Than Somebody

Most of us desire to fit in, but if we’re good at what we do, we want to stand out. The quest for notoriety leads people to reach incredible heights, but is fame all it’s cracked up to be?

Pixar’s rise to greatness is a good example of how fame has its pros and cons. When they made Toy Story, they invented an entirely new way to make animated films. They knew that the film would present many challenges, but they also felt they could tell a great story.

Toy Story wound up grossing $373,554,033 worldwide, and Pixar became a household name. John Lasseter, the company’s founder, describes his experience with Pixar’s second film, A Bug’s Life:[1]

“When we made Toy Story nobody knew who we were but now… I felt like we were making A Bug’s Life in a fishbowl.”

    The notoriety put the studio under pressure to make something as good as or better than Toy Story. They had to improve their technique and avoid the sophomore slump.

    The unknown studio had the freedom to do whatever it wanted, provided they could find talent and money.[2] As a big animation studio, audiences are much more critical, and they have to answer to Disney.

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    Being famous has its perks. We love validation, and having people recognize our talents is an amazing feeling. Feeling like a nobody who can’t seem to turn their dreams into reality doesn’t feel great.

    Obscurity isn’t all bad, though. Don’t let the quest for fame deprive you of the fruits that come from being an unknown.

    Being invisible is scary

      We humans are a social bunch. We learned to stick together because doing so increased our chances of survival. Exile from the group made it tough to get all the resources necessary to make it.

      Beyond evolutionary reasons for sticking together, we’re sensitive to being left out. Deep down, most people just want to be wanted. When we feel invisible, it can create an existential crisis for us.

      When we’re left in the shadows, we often feel sad and envious of people in the spotlight, who seems happy to live in the spotlight and have the attention of people around him.

      When we feel like somebodies instead of nobodies, we don’t question our existence. Our position in society is constantly reinforced by the attention we receive from others.

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      Being famous is not fun

        Being famous satisfies some needs, but it creates others. When you’re famous, you can’t just do whatever you want. You can’t take on certain types of projects because your audience has expectations about what you can and can’t create.

        When you live “under the radar,” you are free to make mistakes. As more people recognize and look up to you, they’ll watch your every move. They usually do this out of love, but it can feel like you don’t have any privacy. Every decision you make is on display. You have to be careful about everything you do when you’re famous.

        Fame also brings more responsibility. The stakes are higher when you start a new project because you have a lot to lose. As you gain fame, other people depend on you. If your new project fails miserably, you might cost yourself and your team their livelihoods.

        Pixar has much more at stake now than when started. They’re responsible to shareholders, and they have an audience that expects them to deliver. Taking a big risk could cost them more money and resources than when they first got into the animation business.

        The perk of obscurity

          Everyone is an unknown for some of their journey. You should embrace and enjoy having the chance to rise and improve. You can make mistakes, and nobody will notice. You don’t have as many worries, your risks are smaller, and if you fail, you can bounce back quickly. Obscurity can be liberating.

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          Imagine you’re an unknown author who decides to publish a novel unlike anything you’ve done before. The novel tanks, but since nobody knew who you were, you were able to spend some time reflecting on what happened. You realized that you were writing what you thought people wanted instead of being true to yourself.

          If you had made the same mistake as an established author, your audience would not be forgiving. They might think that you’re washed up instead of recognizing that you are experimenting. Obscurity gives you the freedom to find out who you are without having to answer to others.

          Being well-known has its advantages, but the cost can be high too. It’s best to appreciate your life for exactly what it is. If you want to achieve fame, realize that the entire journey from being nobody to somebody (not just the part where you’re famous) is important.

          Being somebody doesn’t mean that you need to be world-famous. You can be somebody in your hometown or city. If you’ve achieved what you want, you are somebody. Obscurity is just one part of that journey to being who you want to be and doing what you want to do.

          Fame is an endless chase

          We’ve all heard about people getting their 15 minutes of fame or becoming one-hit wonders. Fame is always subject to change. You may have times when your work is very popular, and there might be points when people don’t know your name. Only a few people have staying-power to be famous forever.

          The public’s attention span is short. Even very famous people don’t get attention 24/7. Some of them crave their alone-time, while others seem confused and upset by it. Lady Gaga stated in the documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two:[3]

          “…And I go from everyone touching me all day and talking at me all day to total silence.”

          The endless chase to be validated and recognized is exhausting and unhealthy.

          Be a nobody for a while

          Realize that fame is the side effect of luck, hard work, and circumstance. Take in the good and bad about living in obscurity for a while. Being an unknown gives you the chance to fail and take risks without destroying your career.

          Every failure will help you improve and refine your mission. Obscurity is your playground. Go there and get creative without worrying about anything other than the things that you love. Living in obscurity and being okay with it will teach you what you need to know to handle fame one day.

          We think that the lives of famous people are easy, but that is only because we see the results of the hard work that they did in obscurity. When Sylvester Stallone wrote the script for Rocky, he was so poor that he had to sell his dog to survive.[4] Chris Pratt lived in a van before he got his big break in Hollywood.[5]

          The journey from obscurity takes time, and you learn many lessons along the way. You find out what you’re made of, and you refine your craft until it’s ready for the world to enjoy. Instead of worry about getting famous, concentrate on being the best version of yourself that you can be.

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          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on June 4, 2021

          10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

          10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

          Failure occurs everyday, in school, jobs, housework, and within families. It is unavoidable, irritating and causes pessimism.

          While the thought of flinging your hands in the air and walking away is all too appealing, take a second to connect with the people who have been there and survived.

          Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. — Henry Ford

          Here are 10 famous failures to success stories around the world that will inspire you to keep going and achieve greatness:

            1. J.K. Rowling

              During a Harvard commencement speech, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outlined the importance and value of failure.[1]

              Why? Simply because she was once a failure too.

              A few short years after her graduation from college, her worst nightmares were realized. In her words,

              “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

              Coming out of this failure stronger and more determined was the key to her success.

              2. Steve Jobs

                The now revolutionary Apple started off with two men in a garage. Years later we all know it as a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees.

                Yet, almost unbelievably, Steve Jobs was fired from the very company he began.

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                The dismissal made him realize that his passion for his work exceeded the disappointment of failure. Further ventures such as NeXT and Pixar eventually led Jobs back to the CEO position at AppleJobs said in 2005:

                “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

                Lost your job today? Keep kicking and you could be just like this guy!

                3. Bill Gates
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                  Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout. He co-owned a business called Traf-O-Data, which was a true failure.[2]

                  However, skill and a passion for computer programming turned this failure into the pioneer of famous software company Microsoft, and the then 31-year-old into the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

                  In his own words:

                  “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

                  This isn’t to say that dropping out of Harvard will make you into a billionaire, but maybe that shiny degree isn’t worth as much as the drive and passion to succeed.

                  If you haven’t found your passion like Bill Gates, this will help you:

                  How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

                  4. Albert Einstein

                    The word ‘Einstein’ is associated with intelligence and synonymous with genius. Yet it is a famous fact that the pioneer of the theory of general relativity, Albert Einstein himself, could not speak fluently until the age of nine. His rebellious nature led to expulsion from school, and he was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

                    His earlier setbacks did not stop him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. After all, he believed that:

                    “Success is failure in progress.”

                    To this day, his research has influenced various aspects of life including culture, religion, art, and even late night TV.

                    Just because you haven’t achieved anything great yet, doesn’t mean you can’t be an Einstein yourself.

                    5. Abraham Lincoln

                      Failing in business in 1831, suffering a nervous breakdown in 1836, defeated in his run for president in 1856, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to rejection and failure. Rather than taking these signs as a motivation for surrender, he refused to stop trying his best.

                      In this great man’s words:

                      “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

                      Lincoln was elected in 1861 as the 16th President of the United States of America.

                      The amount of rejection you receive is not a defining factor. Success is still within your reach.

                      6. Michael Jordan

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                        “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

                        This quote by retired basketball legend Michael Jordan in a Nike advertisement speaks for itself.

                        It would be an easy misconception that Jordan’s basketball skills revolve around natural talent. In fact, in his earlier years,  basketball coaches had trouble looking past the fact that Jordan didn’t reach the minimum height. It was years of effort, practice, and failure that made the star we know today.

                        Michael Jordan’s success all came down to his Intrinsic Motivation, one of the most invincible types of motivation that drives people to succeed.

                        7. Steven Spielberg

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                          Regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, Steven Spielberg is a familiar household name. It is surprising to realize therefore that the genius behind Jaws and E.T. had poor grades in high school, getting him rejected from the University of Southern California three times.

                          While he was in college, he caught the eye of executives at Universal, who signed him as a television director in 1969. This meant that he would not finish his college degree for another 33 years.

                          Perseverance and acceptance of failure is the key to success, after all.

                          “Even though I get older, what I do never gets old, and that’s what I think keeps me hungry.”

                          Bad grades in high school aside, there is no questioning the genius involved.

                          To date, Spielberg has directed 51 films and has been awarded three Oscars.

                          8. Walt Disney

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                            Mickey Mouse creator Walt Disney dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt at joining the army.[3] One of his earlier ventures, Laugh-o-Gram Studios, went bankrupt due to his lack of ability to run a successful business. He was once fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.”

                            Yet today, The genius behind Disney studios is responsible for generations of childhood memories and dreams. From Snow White to Frozen, Disney will continue to entertain the world for generations to come.

                            The logic behind this is simple:

                            “We don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

                            9. Vincent Van Gogh

                              During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh suffered mental illness, failed relationships, and committed suicide at the age of 37.

                              He only ever sold one painting in his life, pinning him a failure as an artist. However that did not put a damper on his enthusiasm and passion for art.

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                              He would never know that years and years after his death he would become known as a key figure in the world of post-impressionism, and ultimately, one of the greatest artist that ever lived.

                              He would never know that he became a hot topic in art classes and his image was going to be used in TV, books and other forms of popular culture.

                              In the words of this great, but tragic man:

                              “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

                              10. Stephen King

                              01-Stephen-King-Rags-to-Riches-Celebs-1

                                As a paranoid, troubled child, tormented by nightmares and raised in poverty, it is no surprise that Stephen King grew up to the title: “Master of Horror”.[4]

                                An addiction to drugs and alcohol were his mechanisms to cope with the unhappiness he felt with his life. The frustration he felt towards multiple rejections by publishers in combination with illicit substances caused him to mentally contemplate violence towards his own children.

                                These intense emotions were those that he focused onto his writing. And that’s why he said:

                                “We make up horros to help us cope with the real ones.”

                                Writing became his new coping mechanism, and this is how the master author we know today grew to success.

                                Fail More Often in Order to Succeed

                                Like Albert Einstein said, failure really is just success in progress. If you’d rather not to fail, you will probably never succeed.

                                Success comes from moments of frustrations when you’ll be most uncomfortable with. But after you’ve gone through all those bitter times, you’ll become stronger and you’ll get closer to success.

                                If you feel like a failure and think that you’ve failed all too many times, it’s not too late to change things up! Here’s how to turn your limitations into your opportunities:

                                Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, start failing, and start failing often; that’s how you will succeed.

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                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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