I recently had the opportunity to do what’s called a “fireside.” A fireside in the church I’m part of is a casual setting in which you can share spiritual concepts through word – and in my case through music. I like to do a Q&A at the end. I love that it’s spontaneous . Sincere interaction is one of my favorite things in the world. It can be so real and raw – not contrived or over prepared.
During these Q&A sessions I often get asked the same question, expressed in slightly different ways. “How do I get my music, or my writing, or my art out there?” Or, “How do I become famous?” While I understand the context and the emotional urgency of this question – I think it decentralizes us and takes us away from what’s truly important.
In my experience, fame or being famous is not always directly proportional to positive impact. Think back on the history of your life. Think about those life-changing moments – however large or small – out of which great things have come about. How many of those moments have ever been tied to someone or something famous?
When I look back, the most life-changing moments have been with someone or something that has nothing to do with fame. For example, Bob Curry is a name you’d never know. He was my high school music theory teacher and he taught me some incredible lessons. One of my favorite came about as I was showing him something I had composed. I was frustrated over a particular passage because I felt like it wasn’t sophisticated enough. Mr. Curry, sensing this, put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said…
“Steve, you write for the audience. Why else would you write?”
Then he repeated…
“Write for the audience. Write for YOUR audience. Don’t write for the performers, for sophistication, or innovation or anything else. Write for the audience.”
That was a moment that changed me and it has stuck with me ever since. It’s a significant moment in my life and it has nothing to do with fame or anyone famous.
Of course we all want to have a broader reach. And yes, there may be the potential of more influence with more “fans.” But that doesn’t change the fact that positive impact is not always proportional to fame. The worth of one soul is immeasurable. Every moment you make with someone counts. That means you don’t have to be famous to make a difference.
--Steven Sharp Nelson