The reason fame and wealth don’t matter.

The ReasonI use the WordPress Plugin “Counterize” to track statistics of the blog: What brings me traffic? Which posts are popular? Which links get clicked?

Most fascinating are the search terms that lead people here. Self-promotion goes to shared spheres: Writers, Bloggers, Techies, Gamers. Search traffic comes from anywhere; people who’ve never heard of me Google a topic and read what I had to say.

It’s as intimidating as it is gratifying.

Today, this search caught my eye:

what is important …fame or wealth

That’s brought two visitors here, 3.08% of my search traffic.

I haven’t blogged explicitly about either fame or wealth. But if people are going to search it and land here, however rarely, I’ll help:

Fame and wealth are not important.

What? Jason, your blog is called LEGENDS of JRP. Aren’t you chasing fame and wealth?

Not exactly. Writing is not lucrative. A convention panelist confessed that selling two books and six short stories inside a year (which is impressive) net him approximately…$10k. Not luxurious.

Writers aren’t rich.

It’s so hard to make money writing that being able to make any money is a mark of success. Writers with day jobs dream of turning phrases into cash. I’m one of the lucky few to have made it that far. By American standards, my salary is modest…but more than I’ve made doing anything else. (Proof that doing what you enjoy is the secret to success.)

Successful television writers make substantial salaries, but they also live in high-cost areas and often lack job security.

For wealth, writing is the wrong career. The writers you hear about, the Stephen Kings and John Grishams of the world, are as rare among writers as lottery winners are among lottery players. They are not automatically more talented than less famous or less lucrative writers. If you and King submitted the exact same manuscript to a publisher, who would get a better offer?

Wealth is a tool.

If wealth is the goal, you’ll be disappointed if you ever get it, because you won’t know what to do with it. If your goal is to barbecue for your family every day, early retirement might be fun.

It’s been repeatedly proven that wealth by itself doesn’t generate happiness. The Hedonic Treadmill causes human nature to adjust to its current circumstances. No matter how good or bad you have it, you’ll get used to it.

What you have after that is dreams and goals. If wealth was your goal, you’ll find it dissatisfying after the cheap thrills wear out. (They will wear out. Ask someone with lots of money.) If your goal is to spend more time doing what you love, wealth can help you get there. And what you love can help you get wealth. It’s a delicious cycle…when your goal is something other than wealth.

Fame is overrated.

The only reason Stephen King would get a better offer for an identical manuscript is that you’ve heard of him. Ergo fame gives better opportunities for wealth, right?


But if you chase fame for fame’s sake, at best, you’ll become famous for chasing fame.

If you would like to be famous for something you’re good at, stop worrying about fame and become better at what you do.

Every writer, entrepreneur and artist should read OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell. The book opens by giving you the birthdays of NHL all-stars. Shockingly, they’re born in January (the lion’s share), February or March with few exceptions.

What gives? Are people born in January naturally better hockey players than those born in April? Or August?

No. At junior levels, there’s age cutoffs for annual tryouts. There’s enormous difference in dexterity, motor skills and size between the kid who’s barely five and the one eleven months older. The bigger kid will outperform his mates.

This will generate more attention from the coach, allowing additional opportunities. Varsity instead of JV. Extra practices. Encouragement. The tiny kid who barely made it might have been the star next year, but he’s too little and uncoordinated to impress. He becomes just another jersey.

Gladwell asks, “Why?” of the most impressive success stories ever told: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, the Beatles, more. The question every time is that there are other talented people in every field: What set these apart?

They had unique opportunities, but they also seized unique opportunities. They were determined to become good at their craft.

The secret to “fame.”

Seeking fame for it’s own sake isn’t just shallow; from a practical viewpoint, it doesn’t set you apart from the crowd. Trying to be famous is almost guaranteed to make you not famous.

What sets you apart is producing more and better work every day.

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