Garrison Wynn
Speaker, Consultant, Author

Garrison Wynn

Founder of Wynn Solutions, this keynote speaker is a former stand-up comedian and author of "The Real Truth About Success


The talented and terrible

Q: NBA all-star Gilbert Arenas was sentenced Friday to two years of probation for his gun-related locker room confrontation with a teammate. Why do so many hugely talented stars--athletes, actors, politicians--work hard to achieve success and then behave in ways that jeopardize their careers? Are they arrogant? Stupid? Oblivious?

As I have commented before, we always expect the famous, the talented and motivational speakers to be better than the average person when it comes to behavior -- as though somehow being really good at something and being well known for it makes us less likely to be criminals.

If you knew you could pull out a gun and wave it around at work and still have your job the next day, you too might be a bit more difficult to work with! Here is a headline you will never see: "Famous, Talented Millionaire Gets Life Sentence." There's apparently some measure of grace or tolerance that goes along with great talent or fame that makes people more accommodating of heinous stuff. So if you are wondering how your boss can be such a jerk and yet still be a boss, it's because you can't fire him.

I mean no offense to all the jerky bosses in the world (and you know who you are). I'm just being realistic about how humans have a tendency to maximize their options. However, people who are expected to perform with great consistency at a really high level in front of an audience have historically freaked out from time to time.

According to most research, the key ingredient to the drive for excellence is a nice, disturbing dose of compulsive behavior, almost always coupled with low self-esteem and extreme sensitivity. Without the sensitivity and the ambition created by a natural sense of having to prove themselves, phenomenal greatness wouldn't exist.

The people who have minimal talent and notoriety are the least likely to pull out a firearm on the job, with the exception of a select few postal workers. Even when we analyze terrible behavior exhibited by people who are relegated to the realm of Loserdom, we find that they were at least persistent enough to be annoying.

From Tiger Woods to John Wilkes Booth, top-performing athletes and actors have notoriously shocked us with their behavior. What's important to understand is that the ability that helped create their greatness also produces the anxiety that destroys their success.

So if we want people to entertain us consistently and rise to almost impossible new heights of greatness, we have to accept that a percentage of them become victims of their own ego, which makes us want to watch their fall from grace even more.

Let's not forget that country legend George Jones's most famous video does not feature a musical performance, but footage of him being arrested for DWI on a riding lawnmower.

By Garrison Wynn  |  March 31, 2010; 5:15 PM ET  | Category:  squandering success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Unfortunately, I am not sure all the jerky bosses know who they are.

Posted by: Gadder | March 31, 2010 10:53 PM
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