Do you remember Carl Lewis, the singer? You know. Carl Lewis. Singer. The performer Michael Jackson dreamed he could be. Singer of THE definitive version of the Star Spangled Banner. No? Maybe this will help jog your memory:
Ah, THAT Carl Lewis. The sprinter. Multiple Olympic champion. Tall, elegant, superstar athlete of the 1980s. Yeah him. Pretty talented guy, quite successful. So what in the Lord’s good name possessed him to do THIS?
Seriously. Words fail me, and that doesn’t happen very often. Obviously. Still, let’s see what I can come up with.
Right, try again.
Presumably being the world’s premier athlete wasn’t enough for Carl. Bored of the adulation and accolades, the fastest man on the planet felt unfulfilled and under-appreciated and needed to show the world the full extent of his, errrr, talents. Don’t get me wrong, I shall be eternally grateful that he shared his gifts with us and should I ever find myself having trouble passing water then I will always have a cure waiting for me on YouTube.
But come on Carl, really, what the fuck man?
I could sit here alternating between pissing myself laughing and shaking my head in disbelief for hours but I’ll get to the point here.
People, know your limits!
There exists currently a myth that you can do anything that you want to and be anything you want to be. Sorry to burst your bubble but no, you can’t. Just ask Carl Lewis. Or Tom Daley.
You probably know Tom Daley as the diver that won Olympic bronze at London 2012, that competed in his first Olympics in Beijing in 2008 aged only 14 and won his first world championship the following year aged just 15. Pretty phenomenal achievements I think we can all agree. And he seems like a nice guy.
But I’ll take a wild guess here that what you don’t know Tom Daley for is ‘Tom Daley Goes Global’, where,
‘Olympic bronze medalist Tom Daley and his best friend Sophie set off for a globetrotting adventure, backpacking around the world for six weeks to get life-changing experiences.’Quick show of hands – who gives a toss?
No, me neither.
Apparently we didn’t miss much, reviews described the show as ‘not particularly enjoyable and having little depth’, and ‘doesn’t make for compelling television’. Who’d have thought?
I can understand a sportsman wanting to pursue a TV career after retiring from their sport but when they’re on top of the world? Why settle for making mediocre TV during your prime athletic years during which you have the potential to achieve what few could even dream of?
Maybe it’s just a bit of a laugh, a bit of fun. Perhaps, but I don’t buy it. Rather, I think the modern hunger for fame and celebrity infects the gifted and talented as much as it does us mere mortals. In an age where people – you know, human beings – actually consider themselves to be ‘brands’ (thanks Mr & Mrs Beckham) the need to extend their ‘brand reach’ leads many to forget their USP – you know, their Unique Selling Point. Or in other words what they’re actually good at.
(Incidentally there is only one person that could rightfully consider himself to be a brand, R.I.P sir).
It’s one thing watching people with obvious talents and subsequent success and opportunity deluding themselves into believing they can be whatever they want to be. I’m not going to be losing much sleep over them. But it’s a different matter for the rest of us.
Take The X Factor auditions as one obvious example.
‘I REALLY want it.’
‘It’s my dream, I’ve always wanted to be a singer.’
Better keep dreaming sunshine because it ain’t happening.
It can undoubtedly make for highly amusing viewing, albeit painful. There is so much cache given to ‘celebrity’ these days that it seems that almost everybody wants to be a singer / actor / TV presenter regardless of any discernible talent in any of those areas. And in chasing an impossible dream how many opportunities may pass us by? How do we make way for what is meant for us when chasing after something that clearly isn’t?
See this is where all of my rambling is leading to. We all have talent, potential, and passions in life, and I believe that it is our job to discover them and fulfil them to the best of our ability, so that we can make our own unique impression on the world. If you sing like a strangled cat but love to sing then by all means do it, but just because something is your passion it doesn’t make it your future.
Your future lies in finding the intersection where your passions and your talents collide, pointing the way towards your core purpose. And you will know when you have found it. It will be when you feel most alive, where your presence in the world is most keenly felt by those around you, whether that be through cooking a beautiful meal for your family, caring for the elderly and sick or coaching at your local sports club.
Making the most of your unique talents is a joy but there is no getting away from another important fact, doing so takes many many hours of hard work. Fortunately, when you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work. Well, most of the time anyway. Isn’t the time that you have available to you best spent focusing your efforts where your talents and your passions meet?
We can’t all be whatever we want to be, but we can all be special and amazing in our own unique way. I don’t know about you, but I’ll settle for that.
Carl Lewis – The US National Anthem (go on, you know you want to watch it again)