John Terry? Tiger Woods? Ah! How the mighty are fallen! Now watch your back...
The recent stories of John Terry, the England soccer team captain, and of Tiger Woods, arguably the best golfer in the world, have saddened me.
You see John Terry and Tiger Woods and similar people are held up as being highly successful. They are held up as being examples of how to apply success secrets and success principles in peoples' lives.
And then CRASH!
It all comes tumbling down. The paragons of virtue, of perfect practice, are suddenly shown to be considerably less than what we thought.
The media have a field day. In fact, they revel in it, and they make their field day last as many weeks as possible. They delight in the destruction of public icons.
Do I judge the media on that?
I think I probably do. I see a trend. Time after time I see the media happy to contribute to destroying the standing of highly regarded people. And yet, they are also the folks who helped put them on a pedestal in the first place. The media have their own agenda. Unfortunately, many people miss that point.
The tale in itself demonstrates something of the morality and values that are behind the media. I'm not sure that I like their morality and values. This isn't a soapbox session about the media though.
What really saddens me is that when we have cases like John Terry and Tiger Woods who have been held up as success icons we all too easily focus on a very small portion of their lives. Normally, although not exclusively, it's the money making, fame making, part of their lives (for US friends, John Terry is a high earnings player). We conveniently forget that everyone lives a life of different parts.
We have our work life, our home life, our family life, our charitable life, our financial life, our social life and I could keep going on.
We have a tendency to 'promote' people to positions of prominence and honour based on a small portion of their life.
For John Terry, it is based on his ability to be a stalwart defender in the game of soccer. For Tiger Woods, it is based on his ability to consistently be a world class - even world beating - golfer. We so easily forget that these 'public' figures like John Terry and Tiger Woods have other parts of their lives too. The media attention frequently builds in the expectation that people at the top in one portion of their life are at the top in EVERY portion of their life. Most times, they're not. Nor should we expect them to be.
Most of us don't get every part of our life right, why should we expect that a person highlighted by the media should get everything right?
There are many people in the public spotlight that we can learn from just as we might with John Terry or Tiger Woods. Specifically, there are many people in the public spotlight who can teach us to be successful. But, for the most part, they can only teach us to be successful in one or two general areas of our own lives.
I can learn from Brad Pitt's acting ability and path to Hollywood but I wouldn't use him as a role model for my marriage. (Nor would I pick Tom Cruise.)
I can learn from Martha Stewart about growing and diversifying business interests and roles, but I wouldn't copy her financial investment strategies or research methods.
I can admire Madonna's singing and ability to re-invent herself but I wouldn't use her as a family counsellor.
I think Mel Gibson's acting and film directing abilities are phenomenal, but I don't think I'd visit a bar with him or use him as my spiritual advisor.
Jeffrey Archer's writing and story-telling abilities made him a best selling author before best-selling authors became quite so commonplace. I would have doubts however about his investment advice and ability to handle public relations.
I wouldn't leave my children at the Michael Jackson nursery school. I wouldn't use Winona Ryder as my personal shopper. And I wouldn't have Hugh Grant arrange me a blind date.
Now, in case you're thinking this is just an excuse to highlight the mistakes of the rich and famous and make them look like idiots, I have to say "No!" The purpose is to say these people made mistakes, sometimes big mistakes. But, we ALL make mistakes. The only reason that these people's mistakes are so high profile is because they've made a name for themselves in another area of their life. If they hadn't been so successful in one part of their life, then it's doubtful that you would even hear of their mistakes.
Are Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise the only people to have had marriage difficulties and divorce?
Is Martha Stewart the only person to face charges of insider dealing?
Is Madonna the only Mum in the world to have marriage problems, divorces or adopt foreign children?
Is Mel Gibson the only guy in the world to get drunk and shout his mouth off in an offensive way?
Is Jeffrey Archer the only chap to face allegations of going with a hooker and then lying about it?
Is Michael Jackson the only person to have put his child in a dangerous situation as a bit of fun?
Is Winona Ryder the only person to have faced shoplifting charges?
Is Hugh Grant the only guy to seek intimate company whilst visiting another city?
You see the things these people did are not totally out of the ordinary. They happen every day, all over the world. The only reason that these particular stories became newsworthy is because it was well-known people involved.
It isn't that well-known people don't make mistakes, they do.
It's the fact that our media services sell us on the idea that these people are perfect in every area of their lives.
Well, They're not!
Get used to it.
Learn what they do that helps them achieve their goals, and learn what works against them.
As for the rest of it, have compassion, unless of course you never make mistakes!