Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Whatever You Do, Don’t Be a Celebrity

Our culture celebrates celebrities to a fault. We place such a high priority on being famous that any other social status is unacceptable. But what does it mean — to be a celebrity — and is it worth the cost?

Don't be a celebrity

Photo credit: Jim Hutchison (Creative Commons)

The search for meaning

We all want to be “epic” and don’t know why. Want to be important, to be needed.

We look at celebrities — famous people — and we envy them: their money, possessions, and prestige. We want their lives. But why?

What do celebrities seem to have that others do not? An audience. People who love them. So when we want the lives of actors and rock stars and millionaires, what are we really saying? That we wished someone loved us.

The tragedy

It goes without saying that this is tragic. Because not everyone can be a celebrity, and not everyone should. But we all should have someone to love us.

Success isn’t fame. And fame is hardly ever success. Success is about more than superficial standings or the number of Twitter followers you have.

Follow the latest celebrities, if you don’t believe me. See what “success” as done for them. Their stories are rife with pain and suffering and heartache. Abuse and addiction, divorce and failed relationships.

And this is what we want? Really?

Why not redefine “celebrity”?

If we’re envious of the lives celebrities seem to have, why not reconsider what we think it means to be famous? To earn attention? What about starting small with stardom?

Here’s an idea: Try being famous first in your own home before heading to Hollywood. Why not live a life worthy of praise from your friends and family before you try to appease critics?

Well, then. You might actually have something to make the celebrities envious. You might be rich, indeed.

Have you ever wanted to be a celebrity? Why or why not? Share in the comments.

*Photo credit: Jim Hutchison (Creative Commons)

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • http://www.ascendingthehills.blogspot.com Jessica Mokrzycki

    I agree. Too many people are scrambling for the attention and recognization of strangers and society as a whole and missing out in the opportunities to bless those around them in their personal life. To experience the joy of victory over false illusions and attachments and the freedom and peace experienced through an enriched devotional life and walk with Jesus.

    If God wants us to be famous before men, then so be it…if we seek and follow His will, it will happen. I guess the whole point is seeking out God’s will for our life and living it to the fullest.

    Thank you for this post. A good reminder…and a reassurance to those of us that live much less than glorified lives in the eyes of society…like me…a stay-at-home mother who feels sometimes silent and unknown in the world. But then I see my children and the seeds I plant in them everyday..the seeds of obedience, of hope, of love and of compassion, and know that that’s my true legacy.

    • http://www.mywritersworkshop.proboards.com/ Joanna Davis

         True. God might be able to use us in certain situations, but we have to be careful to let HIM do the leading and not let love of adulation (see also; PRIDE)  take the wheel. 

         Jeff mentioned in another post that writing for EGO rather than enjoying and sharing the talent God gave will mess up both the work and US.  There are good Christian writers who were celebs and are….sort of, but they don’t let that get in the way.  The reminder that Fame is Fleeting might not be believed if you’re talking about someone like Jack Nicolson or Barbra Streisand, etc, but for the most part, it comes and goes and you need to keep it all in perspective, if you are blessed with an opportunity. 

  • http://movethemountains.blogspot.com ChadJ (randomlychad)

    Jeff, I find a peculiar irony in this; namely, it seems to be human nature to always be wanting what we don’t have. Women with straight hair want curls, and vice-versa. Celebrities, having achieved success, want their anonymity back. Little guys like me want to be noticed for more than just fixing computers. And so it goes.

    The world, society, teaches one model of success, but Jesus teaches a far more subversive one: give it all up to get something intangible, but far more lasting.

    As an aside: what a different world it would be if we paid our entertainers a pittance, and teachers the millions.

    • Roy Eynhallow

      Chad – Amen to that! And Jeff – once again, you pull another string of my conscience. We all want to be famous, but few of us want to be famous for being remarkable. Because being remarkable implies doing something remarkable. It implies hard work! And this is the part we don’t like.

      Many of us would like to be a famous athlete, or a TV star, or even a model or a great actor, a public speaker, a musician… But how many know how much hard work you have to put in to achieve even a tenth of your desired fame?

      I think we many people can become famous, but for that they need to become awesome first. And that means awesome not only in what they do for yourself, but also for others. If anyone has the drive to be awesome not only as a professional, but also as a person, they deserve to be a celebrity. Because I know they can handle it. Some people just can’t bear the burden of fame.

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

         I like that, Roy. It seems to me that the dangerous part is when people grow in their influence and fame too quickly.

    • http://www.mywritersworkshop.proboards.com/ Joanna Davis

        Ain’t that wacky?  Some of these people have jumped through hoop after hoop to get where they are and now they just want to be able to go shopping without being mobbed!  

         And I agree…. it’s all out of kilter. Teachers get jack for trying to instruct the next generation. Celebs get millions for making movies that end up becoming questions on Double Jeopardy! 

         I knew an actor who wasn’t as BIG as  Jim Carrey or Jack Nicholson, but the movies he WAS in ( one in particular) he is phondly remembered for!  I’d sooner make a difference in my own little world than be flashy guppy in a big ocean that ends up getting munched by ‘the next big thing’. 

         Celebs are like…. disposable gods.  One minute, you’re WHOEVER  in capital letters. Next minute it’s like, ‘whoever!’   If you are fortunate enough to get that ‘five minutes’ in the limelight, use it wisely and enjoy it. The ride only lasts for so long and then the carnival is over.


  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    Thanks for the comments, guys.

  • Mike Zserdin

    Celebrities are paid money to tell us what’s cool and worth attention and what to buy. (product endorsements). What’s crazy is, we believe them. We actually look to others to tell us a lot of “whats…”

    Then we look to them to tell us what to believe.

    Finally, we look to celebrities to tell us who to be.

    “We” is a generalization.

    I like your thoughts Jeff. Our home and our friends and our communities need us to genuinely act on our own convictions and represent them in confidence where we’re at. Aspire to be the hero the world needs in our own home, business, little league ball club, community and church.

    Thank you. I’m going to replace a bathroom faucet with my boys today. Teach them to use a wrench and not curse when I get it all put back together and it leaks–I’ll let you know how that goes.

    Thanks for the good word today.

    Have a great day.


  • http://www.fangmarks.com/ Matt

    I think people want the validation that they think being a celebrity represents. They also want the perks. I want people—especially young people–to want to be leaders rather than celebrities. A leader achieves success through thought and action. Their celebrity status(if that happens) ends up being a byproduct. 

    There is a section in Seth Godin’s free ebook Stop Stealing Dreams that features a poll that kids took. The highest percentage(something like 40%) chose the option of being a personal assistant to a celebrity over being CEO of a company, being a navy seal, a united states senator or president of a university like yale or harvard.

    Scary. The kids chose the reflection of fame over anything else.

    • Mike Zserdin

       Wow. “the reflection of fame…” well said.

      Houston, we have a problem.

      In the absence of the correct role models (parents, family, trusted friends and mentors) defining the next generations’ identity it’s left to the celebrities.


      • http://twitter.com/croyseniles Christine Niles

        Matt and Mike, you’ve both hit on something that weighs on my heart, too.  Far too many parents these days are either missing or are more interested in being “friends” to their kids than in equipping them to be strong leaders, thinkers, and creators.  Further, the problem does not simply reside in the urban centers with low income families, it is everywhere and it comes from our generation’s focus on fame and misunderstanding of success.

        Sure I want my words to be read and to make a difference in the world, but numbers for the sake of numbers?  No, thanks.

        • http://www.fangmarks.com/ Matt

          I have some of the same fears, but also hope too. The tools available to people(young and old) today to pursue their own dreams, communicate directly to the masses regardless of location or economic advantages and bypass all the old guard gatekeepers are like nothing we’ve ever seen before. 

          What it takes are people—teachers, parents, authors, artists, businesspeople, etc—to communicate this and demonstrate this so that others can learn and emulate. I see this blog as doing that. That’s how I found it. That’s probably what attracted you here too.

  • http://www.livefullyblog.com/ Evan Forester

    I’ve always wanted to be a professional athlete. I still do, but it’s not happening! Hollywood has peaked my interest too, however I think I’d rather be a director/writer.

    Anyway, incredible idea about being famous to the people who really matter in your life. Those we love are far more valuable than a fan club, and takes a lot of pressure away! 

  • http://twitter.com/ConnieJakab Connie Jakab

    I love what you’re saying here, Jeff.  My desire is to bless people with my writing/speaking, that’s it.  I come from a ministry background where it seems everyone’s fighting for the ministry celebrity title.  Who will be the next “Joyce Meyer”?  Who will  have the next “big idea” etc.  Your message is so needed to combat that mentality.

    My only concern that I’m finding is among friends/family.   Although we don’t speak much of my writing, speaking, ministry – I find I get much more response from people who don’t even know me.  I’m not saying my family/friends aren’t supportive, it’s just different.  Its almost like our relationship doesn’t involve that, per say. Does that make sense?  Yes, there have been haters, but they’re aquaintences (spell check, where are you?? lol)  and not close friends and family.

  • http://www.biddybytes.com/ Colleen Kelly Mellor

    Here’s how fame can change…This really happened, and it shows the fleeting nature of fame meaning it’s far better to go after a real legacy …helping others, being ‘famous’ for good in your little circle. On the other hand, we all want to feel we’ve made a positive difference in the world.  It’s just today’s young must be confused with what’s positive…There are few strong leaders in the celbrity world and the wrong things get pumped, as ‘the way to go.’ http://biddybytes.com/?p=7705

  • Pilar Arsenec

    A big Amen!

  • http://zeroto60andbeyond.com Barbara Hammond

    I only want a comfortable living from doing what I love.  The last thing I want is to be a celebrity on any scale.  Too many ‘long lost’ family members would show up!
    Great post!

  • Daniel

    celebrities aren’t loved, they’re ogled.  People care more about the celebrity spectacle than about the people involved.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    I think we all have wanted to be celebrities. The problem is the fame, notoriety and power ends up going to most of our heads.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       yup. I agree, Larry. Or we want it for the wrong reasons.

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    I’ve never wanted to be a celebrity, for me the message is more important.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins


  • Susan48

    I’ll take riches over fame any day of the week. Fame can suck the life out of you but a ‘rich’ life is beyond price. 

  • http://twitter.com/MLSchwienD Michele Schwien

    Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Success
    brings admirers. And if you surround yourself only with admirers you are bound to lose perspective.

  • peasanspod

    The irony is Jeff,  having spent many years in the music business, staging very large events usually means, or the “business” demands, celebrities of all kinds to draw people to the events- but those celebrities are creations, mythical constructs, of ..you guessed it,  penultimately writers.  Starting with the biography reconstructed and heavily laden with with some fact and lots of filler and bs, to the desks of publicists whose job is “create” celebrity, in order to sell a handbag, or a magazine, or tickets to whatever event is on, and keep the “airhead” or “the personality” in the papers each day.  A great deal of it is smoke and mirrors.  Celebrities, those with not much talent, usually start to believe the crap we, writers, journo’s, write about them.  From the staged photo opportunity, and the rest.  But there are those celebrities who can claim their celebrity crown legitimately. Unique artists and creators of music, art, and the like. We marvel at their skill and talent. 

    Viewing it from the other side, most promoters know, that the celeb is just pure commodity.  The industry feeds this and the momentum grows.  All based purely on words!!! Some people really have talent, and celebrity grows organically, then there are those with no talent, who have been manufactured to the tune of ca-ching of cash registers.  What people do not see, is that many times the celebrity, does not draw flies to “some” events, depending on timing and who else is in town.  Only skilful marketing and publicity will make that happen. Many is a time when the celeb’s manager promises the promoter  instant success,  and as you survey  the crowd all you see is two men and a three legged dog, and a lot of money from many stakeholders  lost.  Notably the “celeb” is paid first. What we read, is not always what we “see” in reality.  

    The celebrity is only effective with a team of great marketers and writers to sell “the construct”.  They age, fall out of favour, and a new one is “created.”  

    Some celebs, are great role models, and some are not.  Using your “celebrity” wisely means that you also have the opportunity to raise money for charities that need it, that people have forgotten, or are buried on page 342. 

    Notably, though it could fill a whole other post, is the advent of the “celebrity”  in churches.  Singers, cd sales, celeb preachers, all using the same marketing and staging event tools,  smoke bombs and video screens.   All geared to the attraction of young people, to “the message”, “bums on seats”, and ultimately wealth creation to survive and market the message to more people.   

     Sometimes it turns people off Christianity, and sometimes it attracts them.  On what basis? It’s for each individual to judge.  The reality is- celebrity is fleeting.  One would hope, that those who are attracted to   Christian events are there because they have some measure of discernment, get the “message” and stay longer, even after the light show , the huge amps are packed away, and the emotions and stimulus of the moment fades.  

    Personally, I don’t think Jesus needs a light show. The message is simple, but churches need to be filled.  “Celebrity” sacred or secular?  The methodology is the same. 

  • http://theannoyinglife.com/ Kevin Martin

    I would not mind if I were famous and on the other hand I am perfectly fine without being famous. I can enjoy my life either way. Nice post, Jeff! 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks Kevin!

  • http://www.nginaotiende.blogspot.com/ Ngina Otiende

    Wow, straight to the heart Jeff.

    My goal is to help people. If “fame” comes as a result, then “fame” is servant – serving for greater good.

    Thanks for this reminder today

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       you’re welcome. i like the idea of fame serving a cause, instead of us serving fame.

  • http://inpulsearts.myopenid.com/ Ed

    Yeah I do want to be a celebrity kind of…I always want people around me. :)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I like that.

  • http://donation-can.com/ Donation Can

    I’ve been placed in high visibility jobs and plenty of people know who I am. Not sure if I’m comfortable with that idea. 


  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Tonight my wife and I went to a 10th anniversary celebration of friends. Loads of children were present and all of them came running up to us. They said, “Miss  Ellen. Miss Ellen.” One mother asked me, “What’s it like living with a rock star?”

    I said, “It all depends on the age group.” Ellen’s tops with the grade-school-and-under crowd. From being a volunteer coach, I get a similar response with the high school crowd.

    Serving our community has blessed us both with “rock star” status and I wouldn’t trade that for anyone else’s fame for anything.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       love that, Tom.

  • Ljoeneff

    It is much harder to be famous at home than in public. You can hide your warts and embellish your strengths for a short time outside home. Those who are applauded at home are the real successes! The folks at home know.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    While I was growing up, I found myself among a community of musicians. All struggling to become the next big hit. Some went on to succeed, many did not. It peaked my interest in the world of celebrity status and, for awhile, I wanted to obtain the fame and status of celebrity.

    But looking back on it, it would have been fleeting. With no real reward.

    Now, I just want to have and leave an impact on those that I interact with. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Me too.

  • http://www.chaplainmike.com/ Mike Hansen

    Jeff: Congrats on the 5 figures in the tribe!

    I wanted to be a baseball star when I was a kid. That and maybe a drummer in a band. But lacking in the talent department on both accounts.

    A couple of years ago I was hitting a baseball to my son and he would remark how far I could hit it. I said I can hit the ball, but others can hit way, way better than me, like Troy Tulowiski (we’re Rockies fans here in Colorado). I realized at that moment, it doesn’t matter if I can hit a 300 foot homer or not. All that matters is I can look like an all star home run king to my son. That’s it! If I achieve some kind of celebrity status with no one other than my kids, well then, I’ve arrived.

    My life is about glory to my Creator. But any glory I might have in this life, I want to because I’m a good parent to my kids and my tribe.

    Success and celebrity, while not mutually exclusive, are often separated by a huge chasm. I firmly believe there are only few people who can actually handle true fame, fortune and success and still keep their head on their shoulders, i.e., remain humble and know the world doesn’t revolve around them.

    Here’s to true success!

  • http://www.buy-followers.org/ Julie Williams

    At first Lady Gaga was an ideal for me. I adored her every song, and knew that by heart, I was in my sixteens during that time. Though later I understood that there is no point in worshiping someone who does not even know about your existence. So I started to think quite different at my 18s. 

    • Peter Tancordo

      lady gaga? seriously? why not just praise the devil then?

  • Kelly

    Such a great post! I struggle with this myself, and the “am I good enough?” virus.

  • http://www.surprisingtreasures.com/ Cjoybarclay

    Love – “why not try being famous in your family first” It all beings at home- service, love, being authentic!

  • JasonThomasCormier

    Well said my friend, well said.

  • http://www.thecolorsofmysoul.com/ Lena

    Never really wished to be a ‘celebrity’ but I love being appreciated. 

  • Ben

    I write for a, let’s say well-known (maybe not in the US), automotive title. For me I don’t desire celebrity. I want to be recognised for my work, not anything else.

    You say to be famous at home first, but often times friends and family can be your harshest critics as well. I suppose some people find validation in fame because they can’t find it at home. The sort of “I wanna prove them wrong” theory.

    I don’t see anything wrong with that actually.

  • marwa chehab

    I’ve always wanted to be a singer, dancer or an actress but my society is too closed especially my parents. It’s hard for me to fit in in my society. I think in a very different way from my friends and for me being a celebrity can help me feel excepted by others. It can also give everything I’ve ever wanted, since my family is broken and we’ve been like that for years. I am sick of feeling like this and celebrities don’t have to think about  small things like money, and they are excepted by everyone no matter how weird they are. And it’s not a bad thing to be wanting this to happen for me is it?

  • Peter Tancordo

    I think some people try there hand at acting, singing, whatever, and some, not all, are truly good at it. some can succeed very well because of there talent, there savvy. but not everyone can. no harm in trying, if that’s really what you want to do, but its always good when it comes to artistic ventures, to have do the art because its what you love and enjoy doing, NOT because your looking for ultra fame or massive success. people who are successful, usually love what they are doing more then anything else. its not about the fame, its about the art form. people that are just looking for fame or attention from people, well any braindead idiot with a laptop can get that.look at all the moronic youtube “stars” (nostalgia critic, losers like that). they are just known by people for being really stupid. that’s not talent, that’s just being a obnoxious attention whore.

    anyway, if your one of the lucky few that do become famous, its very hard to not have it go to your head. and like the Bible says, its easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle then for a rich (or famous) man to enter Heaven. that is true of celebrities. they may have all the earthly “rewards”, if you can call cheating, drug and alcohol abuse, failed relationships, backstabbing “friends”, overwhelming fanbase, the paps, lack of privacy and other terrible side effects of the fame machine, but you’ve lost a lot of other things. I would defiantly not want to be a “celebrity”. I wouldn’t last long anyway, because I would use my fame to tell people about Jesus, Hollywood would get all evil on me and toss me out because of my beliefs, and we all know how evil Hollywood world is.

  • Victoria

    I never actually considered being a celebrity; but I did considered being known for my talents and wanting to change the world. Now; I don’t even want to think about fame, because that’s like an abyss that captures you quicker than life could ever take a short breath.

  • soundsofepip .

    Grandicide is the disease of our generation. Everyone wants to have it. I think it is a lonely existence. Having value in your self and loving others is truly a noble effort. I never wanted to be a celebrity; I want to help others and change the world, but that begins from within not without. If being a celebrity is so great why are there so many recovery centers from drugs in Los Angeles, Hollywood.

  • EmaLee

    Most people that want to be a part of Hollywood have no idea what it’s actually like. Tabloids could not be more clear about how screwed up the culture can be, and people still act like it’s this slice of heaven because you mite run into a celebrity at Starbucks.

  • WithheldName

    Think of Chester Arthur. Ever heard of him? He was he most powerful and famous person in America 1881 to 1886. Most Americans today barely know his name. What is his legacy? A few sentences in the history books? An old portrait on a wall? A nice headstone in an obscure local cemetery? A plaque on the sidewalk in some small town where his childhood home formerly stood? Like most every successful politician, he probably obsessively pursued his career goals nearly every waking moment of his life. But was he ever very happy? Was he ever truly loved? Could he even say that he truly deserved his rare level of success…or was he mostly just a beneficiary of lucky circumstances? Did he get any of more life, any more fulfillment, any more meaning, any more happiness, than most of the rest of us? Over 100 years later, what was so special about him? Nobody remembers him. Nobody knows much about him. He’s just some old dead guy.

    Yet he was richer, more famous, more powerful, more influential, and more successful than 99.9% of us will ever be. But does it matter?

    Don’t waste your life. Don’t waste a precious moment of this short life dreaming for something worthless like fame, power, or riches. Trust me, it doesn’t make a difference.

    We dream of these kinds of things when we’re tired, lonely, and feeling defeated and unappreciated. Like any other fantasy, it’s an attempt for our minds to fight off despair. But it’s an investment that gives nothing back in return. It’s nothing worth pursuing. Don’t waste your life. Live your life focused on the things you can realistically change and become: your family, your neighborhood, your school, your workplace. Focus your efforts there. In the end, that’s all you will have.

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  • Net

    I would love to be in the movie industry. Working behind the
    camera. Directing. Yes I would.

    Still may do it, someday.


    I like to help regular guys feel good about themselves.

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