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

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Under a white-hot spotlight

Q: Laura Bush drew kudos and controversy for largely staying out of the limelight as first lady. She's even reserved in her new memoir. Did Bush miss a chance to promote her causes more aggressively? Do such people have any responsibility to the public?

Success in the spotlight can only be truly judged when your spotlight fades.

The longer your fame lasts, the better chance you have of screwing up in front of the world. It's like big-talent diva Whitney Houston's ill-fated "Nothing But Love" tour in Europe. With her voice failing and people walking out, it seems that "Love" is not enough; you have to be able to actually still sing. If she had died or retired a few years ago, they would have built a shrine to her, but unfortunately she hung in there long enough to stink!

When it comes to famous people, we seem to see them as just famous and somehow no longer people. Ms. Houston has been through a lot (like being married to Bobby Brown, for example), and handling the pressure of matching a voice you had in the '80s in live performances night after night is not easy.

The average person has no idea what it's like to be in the spotlight and consistently attempt to meet the expectations set by your former greatness. Your publicized lack of success is created by your original success. The only way to avoid this is to stay perfect or to have sucked to begin with!

We like to think that a lot of things get better with age, but mostly that applies to just wine and cheese. There are exceptions: it's true that properly trained opera singers are in prime voice at 60 years old, and the last thing you want is to hire a 25-year-old management consultant.

But, in general, the only way to be surrounded by things that have improved with age is to go to an art gallery. You get to have some wine and cheese and see how something that used to be worth nothing is now valuable because its creator is dead.

Living in the spotlight is not easy, and it's understandably difficult for the masses to have compassion for those under its pressurized illumination.

Laura Bush is a person who had no aspirations of being in the limelight. She was a librarian and school teacher from West Texas who, at age 17, killed a friend in a car accident. She then met a trust-fund guy with alcohol problems who unexpectedly ended up with as much spotlight as you can possibly get. He became an unlikely governor and a less likely president who ended up globally unpopular. So if you have a basic understanding of humans, it's not a stretch to see how she might have been reserved when it came to promoting her causes.

The responsibility that a celebrity has to the public is based on what the celebrity is actually famous for. This means that boxing great George Foreman is required to promote boxing and be a decent role model and an ambassador for fairness or something, I guess. It does not mean that he is required to help the world to grill hamburgers with less fat. It's not just because he looks like a guy who is not fond of fat-free hamburgers; it's just not what he is expected to do.

The duties of the first lady are to be a hostess for the White House (see Wikipedia). The first lady is not always the president's wife. We have had a few bachelor presidents back in the day, and they had friends, sisters, and other women to help plan and host dinners and events. In that respect, Laura did what she was expected to do very well. You might not have liked the politics under her reign but I heard the food was fantastic!

By Garrison Wynn  |  May 17, 2010; 6:11 PM ET  | Category:  Defining success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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It appears That your jokes about Whitney Houston have been taken far too seriously by a couple of girls (wrong and typical). As far as the Bushes are concerned, I would be happy to never hear about them again. We can thank them for disgusting the American Public so much that the young actually got out and voted this time. I only hope that continues through the next 100 years. The Sad state of American politics has a real chance if we all do our part in making sure than no one even remotely like the bush family ever comes close to power in this nation again. Other than that they are only worth forgetting, preferably sooner rather than later.

Posted by: Rabbitsmoker | May 20, 2010 1:44 AM
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I think your comments on Whitney Houston's marriage are wrong and typical. I think Bobby as the problem is an incorrect take on that union. From the outside, we never know where the true lines are in a relationship. We do not know where that line is in the case the Browns or the Bushes. Water seeks its own level.

Posted by: smartfunnygal | May 19, 2010 12:05 PM
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Remain a comedian - you will do better.

Posted by: shovandas | May 19, 2010 7:43 AM
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