Ah yes, the arrogance of success (read on there is a star connection). The arrogance of success is the leading cause of death of long standing friendships and iron-clad business relationships.
I’m not writing this blog because I’m hurt or angry. Quite the contrary. I’m writing it because I am extremely grateful and happy as a pig in pooh. But before I get to that, as a student of human nature it didn’t take me long to understand that a person’s true character comes out under extreme duress or extreme euphoria. Under extreme duress, when one is feeling threatened, they either step up to the plate and bravery infuses them to fight the good fight, or they turn tale and run leaving everyone behind because they are too selfish to care or they become ugly and take everyone down with them.
In the case of extreme euphoria, i.e. when someone hits it big, and that success generates not only critical acclaim but a financial windfall, all too many of these success stories become inflated versions of themselves. When fans go ga-ga over them, they begin to assume a bit of a God complex and they also begin to elevate themselves above their friends and family who are not as financially fortunate as the brand new shiny star. I’ve seen this happen so many times in the publishing industry the outcome has become sadly predictable.
Very few long standing relationships weather the storm of success. Either the person whose star is shooting to the moon gets too full of themselves and makes themselves unlikeable or the person whose star has not launched (or had launched but crashed and burned) can’t get past the fact that their friend’s has. I’m sorry to say, I know more than a few people on both sides of this fence. They are no longer the close friends I once considered them to be. Me? I think I’ve basically remained the same person, if anything more aware and understanding not only of myself but of human nature. I don’t begrudge anyone success. Hell, I don’t even begrudge them their attitudes. I mean, if that’s how they truly are, why would I want to be part of that?
Despite the ugly that mega success in this business can bring out in people, it also brings out the class and generosity in others. I am fortunate that my dearest friend falls into this category. And it’s to people like her I am grateful for.
It is those people whose generosity should set the bar for all of us. It is those classy ladies who we should strive to emulate. No, not as a clone but in attitude, acts of paying it forward, of being respectful of the industry, those in it, and most importantly, respecting ourselves.
There are many parallels between our industry and Hollywood. There are rising stars, falling stars and super stars. While we all want to be superstars, we have to remember that to become one, we have to launch from earth first, and it will be to that same earth we return when the lights eventually go out, whether by choice or by the next superstar eclipsing ours.
And now the burning question: In publishing or the movie/television industry, who is your favorite class act?
I hope you all have a safe and happy Labor Day!