Five Success Lessons I’ve Learned From Beyonce
The last few weeks of 2013 have been a serious time of reflection for me, and I’ve had plenty of material to reflect on. First, Susan Miller’s Astrology Zone December 2013 forecast for Scorpio says that from December 7 2013 to July 25 2014, I will benefit from working on a semi-secret project (which I do have in progress :)) . Then, Shelley Prevost wrote an amazing article on Inc.com about how to distinguish your calling from your ego.
Then, on Friday, December 13th, Beyoncé releases an album with no marketing and almost no warning. The sheer genius of having no marketing be your marketing is compelling, but Beyoncé has taken various steps in her career to get to the very top of not just pop music, but global pop culture. I’ve been thinking about these steps all week, and I’m happy to report that they are steps we can all take.
1. Get Clear About Your Calling
As the Inc.com article suggests, this isn’t just important so you’ll enjoy the work you’re doing. Clarity about your calling is important so you don’t get distracted by work that may be pleasing to your ego, but not your soul. One of the reasons that we love artists like Beyoncé is that they’ve doggedly pursued one goal for most of their lives. That doesn’t mean they only do one thing-Beyoncé has a clothing line and an acting career as well-but she wasn’t trying to do all those things as once. If you start with your calling and work hard at it, it will lead to a diverse array of opportunities.
What this means for me in 2014
Writing is my calling. My ego has lead me away from it numerous times, in favor of activities that would garner more attention or instant feedback (social media, anyone?).There are several places where I have my hands-video production/education and marketing-but the former was born out of a desire to tell stories in a visual way, and the latter, as way to make money with writing and strategy. But I’ve know what I’ve need to do for some time, and it’s write.When I think of my ideal space, it’s not unlike Melvin Udall’s apartment in the film As Good As It Gets. Big, impeccably organized, solemn and perfect for writing. Mind you, I’m not a complete misanthrope, but aside from the ethnic slurs and homophobia, I can relate to him. Knowing your calling also makes it easier to…
2. Make Sacrifices
Beyoncé never went to her high school prom or graduation because she was working. I don’t know the whole story behind the member changes in Destiny’s Child or her decision to let her father go as her manager, but what I do know is that over the course of her career, Beyoncé has made some tough choices. It’s much easier to make these kinds of sacrifices if you have your ego in check. Not only does ego-driven work not sustain or feed us, but it attaches success to the results instead of the process.
What this means for me
No more trying to do everything. Thinking you can be on every committee, work full-time, have side work, maintain relationships, and physical and mental health at a high level is not only difficult, it’s not going to get you ‘there’ faster. If anything, it will make getting there even slower. So why do we (I) do it? Because if I can juggle a lot of balls, my ego gets to say “Look at how many things I can do at once!” Being a steadily-working but as-of yet uncelebrated writer is a part of the process, and ego hates process.
3. Scarcity Communicates Value
Three days after Beyonce’s latest album came out, I was able to stop watching the video for “Partition” long enough to get some writing done. The general public has never seen that much of Beyoncé before (Sidebar: there is no other word but flawless to describe her body. My gawd.) and when you think of how much we have seen of other celebrities, it’s even more remarkable. The sight of Beyoncé’s perfectly toned and rounded backside is such an event because there is no Beyoncé sex tape or “leaked” photos of her naked. Hearing Beyoncé remind skeptics and haters alike that her quest for perfection started when she was a child in “Bow Down” seemed extraordinary for Beyoncé because she never got into a Twitter beef with her naysayers, or never got into a shouting, rantfest with a radio jock. There’s a fine line between relatable and common, and Beyoncé hasn’t even attempted to walk this tightrope until very recently. Beyoncé has been criticized for her sometimes stoic appearance in interviews and highly curated contributions to Instagram and Tumblr (her only social media presences), but considering how the media loves to tear down its idols, especially its female and black ones, Beyoncé knows that she will always need to curate her image carefully.
What this means for me
It encourages me to not think twice about not wanting to post every single picture, idea, thought or life change on social media. I am a heavy social media user, but I’m conscious that most of my shares aren’t not related to my personal life. It’s my ol’ Scorpio need to privacy, yes, but I’m also aware of how perception can end up being reality. Openness, real openness, is something I’m working on in my personal life, but the thought that someone feeling like they know me off the strength of social media alone has always skeeved me out.
4. Don’t Give Everything to Everybody
Similar to the above point. Beyoncé’s fifth album is her most personal one to date, and Beyoncé’s private nature makes that even more special. Can you think of a celebrity at Beyoncé’s level who had gotten married and pregnant and has little-to-no pictures in the public of either? It’s unheard of. Beyoncé and Jay-Z weren’t even photographed together for most of their courtship and they still don’t talk about their relationship in the press very much. But why should she? Beyoncé is famous for her craft, and when she does reveal aspects of her personal life, she does it with her craft.
What this means for me:
Moving forward I’m going to use my desire to share to make my work more personal and relatable, rather than sharing in 140 characters or images on Instagram. Especially since I want to write, a medium that demands vulnerability, I will make a better effort to dedicate my work, including the work on this blog, to this kind of sharing.
5. Don’t Respond to Negativity (especially from yourself).
We get a good kiki from seeing celebs go toe-to-toe with bloggers or people on social media but Beyoncé has never done this. She’s said in numerous interviews that she seldom goes on the internet, and when she does, she stays away from the comment section. The desire to defend ourselves is a natural one, but to quote dream hampton, “Never waste your time explaining yourself to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.” We can inadvertently validate negativity by responding to it.
What this means for me:
I’m fortunate enough to not have to deal with negativity from others almost ever, but my inner critic more than makes up for it. Negative self-talk often disguises itself as “being realistic” or “careful” and when it comes from ourselves, it may seem valid. In 2014, I will work to make sure than I’m not grounding myself and confusing it for stay grounded. Reality is highly overrated. Reality says that you need a massive marketing campaign and a radio hit to even go gold in today’s music industry and Beyoncé did it without any of those things, in 48 hours. It’s a reminder that possibilities, not so-called “realities,” are where success happens.