“I want to be famous!”

I’ve always found it interesting how so many people want to be celebrities. A deeper look into many celebrities’ lives often reveals a depressingly superficial and hollow existence where their personal growth has been severely stunted. Their happiness is manufactured with drugs, the people they’re surrounded with lack depth, and any morals they had are quickly washed away. In spite of all this, most of us have heard someone enthusiastically proclaim: “I want to be famous!”

From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense that people would want to be famous. It’s simply the best way to display that you have power. You get every status symbol you need to prove you’re dominant — cash, cars, women, etc. But all this comes at such a heavy price. Everyone affirms how great you are to the point where it’s almost impossible not to become a complete narcissist (if you weren’t already). You start to believe that you’re really important, simply because you exist.

Bottom line: There are stars out there who are genuinely good people, and have somehow crawled through the world of celebrity without compromising their souls. But it’s so exceedingly difficult to stay true to yourself while also doing everything you can to become famous.  Fame and integrity are not mutually exclusive, but they’re pretty damn close.

This scene from ‘Extras‘ sums it up better than I can.  Jump to 0:48.

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Charlie Hoehn is a speaker and the author of Play It Away (“Here's the cure to your stress!” -Tony Robbins) and Recession Proof Graduate. He has presented at the Pentagon and three TEDx events. His article about the importance of play is the #1 result on Google for the search “cure anxiety." He was the former Director of Special Projects for Tim Ferriss, and helped launch The 4-Hour Body (#1 NYTimes bestseller, million copies sold). Charlie's work has been featured on NPR TED Radio Hour, Forbes, Fast Company, and Harvard Business Review. He lives in Austin, Texas.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Patrick Kanaley

    Short and to the point. I think you’re right that’s it’s difficult to actively pursue fame and still maintain personal integrity. However, I think the key is in the motive behind pursuing fame.

    I hold many of the individuals you have worked with (Seth Godin, Ramit Sethi, Tim Ferris, Tucker Max…) in high regard as a result of their integrity, and I’m sure many others do as well. As you pointed out above with politicians, I think that their fame is derived from an honest desire to help, educate, entertain, create and so on, and thus integrity becomes their platform for fame. It’s when the pursuit of fame becomes the operative motive that conflicts with integrity arise. Unfortunately, it seems fame and the subsequent status increases you mentioned tend to be quite tempting and addictive.

    Seeing as you’ve worked with a number of famous individuals, what do you think? Is there a less destructive model of celebrity?

  2. Jonha Revesencio | iJustDid.org

    Hi Charlie,

    After coming from Ramit’s extensively researched articles, I it such a refreshing experience to get to read your quite more laid back yet still filled with facts posts.

    I never wanted to be famous for personal reasons (like what people could do to me) but the most terrifying threat I believe is what I COULD DO TO MYSELF.

  3. RT Wolf

    Lol, you mean the whole second paragraph? I did but it didn’t register properly when I came back to write my comment. I cite my illness as a (poor) defense. Feeling more clear headed today and see your post covered whatever I was saying.

    In penance, I offer some more info that might be interesting: are you familiar with the Big Five Personality Traits?


    Narcassism = high extraversion (climbing social heirarchies) + mid to low agreeableness.

    That said, I loved the clip from Extras, especially the multiple levels of irony in there.

  4. charhoehn@gmail.com

    “[Fame is] simply the best way to display that you have power. You get every status symbol you need to prove you’re dominant

    Did you not read that part, RT? : )

  5. Gerald Croteau

    Amazing clip. I really need to start watching TV. Anyhow, I do think that you make a good point. Like with a lot of lessons. Once you learn it is too late.

  6. charhoehn@gmail.com

    @Anne – Hmmm… I’d say that there’s a similar power dynamic, but I don’t think celebrities and politicians are a fair comparison overall. If you want to be a celebrity, there’s no altruistic motive behind that. It’s always going to be for selfish reasons. Politicians (aside from corrupt ones) genuinely want to change things for the better. Whether they actually make that change is another issue, but I’d guess that most politicians get into it to help others.

  7. Anne Good

    Interesting post. Would you agree that the same could be said about politicians?

    I’m sure many well-minded people have entered politics but have become overtaken by political power. What good is political power to a power seeker if they have no one to use it on?

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