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25 Feb 2010

Are You Too Scared to Become a Hero?

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rockstarI was watching American Idol last night (don’t mock me) and as I was watching some of these singers squirm on stage, and for the most part, completely suck, I noticed that I was starting to see each singer as a representation of someone that came before him.

While some dudes were singing, I was all “this dude is last year’s ‘so and so,’ he’s toast. While with other dudes, I was thinking “OK, so this is a young Daughtry just waiting to come alive.”

Stepping into the Role

And that’s when it hit me…not that American Idol sucks, but that the process of “going to Hollywood” through becoming the American Idol is one that forces singers to mature and develop on the fly. Those that make it to the final show have become like a blade forged in the fires of hell. Through the process of using their skill, they’ve stepped up to the role of rockstar demi-god and have embraced the experience, rather than cower in fear.

They own their role on the stage, and watching the progression, it’s pretty amazing.

On the other hand, the rest of the participants are those people that never really develop. They’re either scared, or they just never find their role. It doesn’t fit…and it’s easy to tell.

Needless to say…they don’t make it.

Are You Scared?

So where does this leave you?

When I compare the process of American Idol auditions to the digital world, there are a lot of parallels.

For starters, there is a low barrier to entry, and as a result, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world are standing in line trying to be the next digital emperor.

The problem though, is that 95% of them don’t have what it takes to make it work, either through a lack of skill, desire, or dedication.

They fall by the wayside pretty quickly…dropping off one by one.

Within the 5% that are left, we’ve got basically two types of people:

1. Platformers (my new term for bloggers) that finally understand their role…embrace it, and harness it.

2. Platformers that live in fear and never embrace their inner hero. They stay in the role of the novice because it’s more comfortable.

People Feed on Fear

How many leaders do you know that are always timid and shy?

Probably none, right? Most leaders are confident and fearless. They might be sweating bullets, but they never show it.

Audiences can smell fear, which is why leaders hide it.

When they’re writing, they don’t use terms like “I’m just a noob,” or “you might not agree with me.”

They use power phrases, like “You need to do this,” or “this is what I know.”

Allow Yourself to Grow

Aside from the way you interact with others, it’s also important to treat yourself in a way that is confident, which means avoiding the trap of labeling yourself as a novice or rookie.

We all start somewhere, but that doesn’t mean we are clueless. And as we grow, so does our status. That is, unless we keep it from doing so.

Using status is an excuse mechanism designed to make us feel safe when we don’t make it. The problem with excuse mechanisms is that they also cage our nature and keep us from growing.

Developing Your Stage Persona

This is the part that separates the winners from the losers…those that make it and those that don’t.

If you really want to become successful in building a digital empire, then you’ll have to embrace your role as emperor. You have to lead a crusade.

Yes, I know it’s uncomfortable at first to speak with authority and to put yourself out in front of people.

It’s awkward to speak the language of a hero…of a rockstar.

But you know why that is? It’s because you haven’t done it often enough.

Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk are normal people, just like you and I, but they’ve embraced their inner hero and have created personas that people want to cling to.

They’re the lifeboats on the Titanic. They’re the William Wallaces and the Jack Bauers.

The only difference between us and them is that they’ve stepped up to the plate and embraced their inner hero.

What’s Your Persona?

I know a lot of leaders, and each one of them has a different persona. Some lead with powerful speeches, while others lead with heroic action.

There’s no right way to do it…it’s all about your genre and your personality. What does your inner hero look like? What would you look like as a rockstar?

Lastly, to bring it back to the original topic, which was American Idol…take a look at someone like Kelly Clarkson or Daughtry and compare them to the rest of the field.

The reason they won, is not necessarily because they were a better singer, but because they were a better rockstar.

The next time you want to discount your skill or your potential, think about that.

Don’t be afraid to become a rockstar.

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  • http://www.pursuitofchange.com/ Mike Tiojanco

    Love it. As a new blogg…. just kidding.

    Here's my new outlook on the whole internet business, personal branding thing.

    Confidently be yourself.

    When today's A-list started, there was no map for them to get where they are today. Similarly, there is no blueprint for people starting now to become A-listers. We have to take and create our own path. Definitely listen to and learn from the people who have “made it,” but their route to success won't be the same as ours. Technology and the internet business environment are constantly changing.

    Be yourself. Speak with authority and conviction. Offer value. People will be drawn to you.

    It also helps if you can play electric guitar or drums. There's something on my side already…

  • http://frombottomup.com/ Hulbert

    My dad watches American Idol and he tells me that there is nobody this season that “wows” him. But maybe that's because the last past seasons have had more powerful singers.

    I agree that in order to be a hero or a leader, we need to be fearless and stand up for our own opinions. I think Gary Vaynerchuk has such as big fan base because he's not afraid to be a weirdo (e.g. sniffing Conan O'Brien's armpit on national TV). There's a lot of different persona's out there that are good, but what makes them great is their inside drive and passion to show the world who they are.

  • justinmatthews

    This is a great post. I am at the point where I need to move on from new blogger and this really helps. I will speak with authority and the masses will cower in fear! Or bow to moxy. whichever works.
    Thanks Nathan
    Justin

  • http://zemalf.com/ Antti Kokkonen

    Thanks again for inspiration Nathan. I've had a awesome day today. It started with listening to your podcast this morning (the five year plan stuff). I got some encouraging comments and mails during the day… And it kinda rounds up here on this post…

    It's not so much that I want to be a rockstar, but being a hero… a humble hero who comes in to save the day, but doesn't ask anything in return, because just doing the good deed has given so much satisfaction. That I can take.

    As a sidenote, I'm a big American Idol fan (which fortunately airs here on Finland as well), and Daughtry and Carrie are my all time favorites.

  • http://olegmokhov.com/ Oleg Mokhov

    “Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you're in control, they're in control.” -Tom Landry

    Preach on, Nathan, preach on.

    It's all about being believing you're a hero, a rock star.

    If you wanna be a leader, then uncover your swagger. You need to ooze self-belief. If you're bold and confident in what you do, others will feel confident following you and spreading your message.

    Can you name even one timid leader? I can't. One doesn't exist.

    After all, would you follow someone who's unsure of themselves? How can you be confident venturing into new ground if the person you're following isn't?

    Get confident. Become a leader by uncovering your swagger.

  • http://www.mikeslife.org Mike CJ

    This is good. I've never really understood that whole timid / newbie thing. Sure, I was new to blogging a year ago, and knew nothing about so many aspects of social media, but all I did was translate my real life presence into my online presence.

    It doesn't matter if you don't know an RT from a CPU – if you're writing on a topic you're passionate about and understand, then write with the real authority your knowledge deserves.

  • http://www.RoyNaim.com Roy Naim

    Fake it till you make it is the theory here which I quite frankly agree with.

    HOWEVER, I do not agree with the fact that you shouldn't call yourself a newbie. I think we, as Americans, love the newbies. We love the rag to riches stories. We love hearing the story of one person struggles and how they got out of it or didn't. Hence the world of reality TV.

    Yes, there are times where we will need to be the expert and it will be hard but being open and transparent will just bring in more people. Of course, if you will always be a newbie and no willing to grow then you will lose people.

    At the same time, fear is something, as you say it, that can be picked up on. If you are trying to make a deal, then it might kill it. Trying to sell something and not so sure about it, you will lose. But if you are trying to grow, hell with it, let the fear grow and let American watch you do so.

  • http://twitter.com/marsdorian Mars Dorian

    I agree with you.

    Unleashing your inner hero leads to an extraordinary (online) life.
    Most people are timid and want to play it safe. Breathing your uniqueness will
    give you an edge.
    It's my daily mission to remember these words.

  • http://www.integralwebsolutions.co.za/Blog.aspx Robert Bravery

    A nice long post, but excellent. My question though, who =is the Simon Cowel of the blogoshere. You want to take the Job. LOL
    Have to admit both Idols, and making it in the blogging world are scary things.
    I cringe when I see people who obviously suffer from delusions of grander and think that they can sing. Yuk.
    The blogging world is no different, there are people with a false sense of success thinking that blogging is going to bring in tons of cash..
    One reason why I do not try out for Idols, is that I know my strengths and weaknesses. One stands a better chance of being successful if you understand your strong points and do what you know you're good at.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    lol, I planned it for 500 words, but it just kept going!

    It sounds like what you're saying is to not fake it, not be over-confident, and always stay grounded…all while still kicking ass.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    It's also much more fun to be a hero don't you think? :)

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Fake it till you make it, that's a great strategy used by marketers and businessmen everywhere. Just got to make it at some point :)

    And that's what I'm trying to say about being a newbie. Yes, you can be a beginner and be both successful and honest, but at some point, you have to let that title go and move up. Just don't be afraid to level up.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    I can relate to it a bit…it's nerve wracking writing content for the world to see, so you try to make it average enough that no one will think you're a fake.

    The problem there is that you look like a fake.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    That's a hell of a quote my friend. I'm going to save that one.

    Swagger is a great way to put it. You have to empower others with your confidence, not make them more fearful.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Hey Antti, thanks! Glad the podcast stuff is going over well.

    Being a hero is what I prefer too…being a rockstar sounds cool, but being the one to save the day…well that's just awesome.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Awesome! The world better watch out for this guy :)

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Part of the reason is that people are still maturing. Over time, someone will emerge, and that's exactly what they say in both the critiques and in the way they pitch the show.

    You have to emerge.

    Be yourself, and don't apologize for it.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    haha, well, considering I sell a product called Beyond Blogging…it's not easy for me to give it up, but I'm trying :)

    I like what you said about creating your own path. You have to end up where the puck will be, not where it is now.

  • http://agilnetwork.blogspot.com/ Samuel Rodriguez

    Here in my country we have a saying: “To become a leader, first you must look like one”. You have to believe it and act like one.
    When i visit my clients i always wear a tie and suit. They feel respected and they respect you.
    You must be prepared and ready to answer all questions. Must be sure and honest.
    The rest comes naturally.

  • http://twitter.com/berniepiekarski/status/9655766662 Bernie Piekarski

    Are You Too Scared to Become a Hero? http://ow.ly/1pidhS <–Great post–must read! (via @CrisBuckley @chuckfrey @remarkablogger)

  • http://twitter.com/janicetomich/status/9655961422 janice tomich

    RT @CrisBuckley: RT @chuckfrey: RT @remarkablogger: Are You Too Scared to Become a Hero? http://ow.ly/1pidhS <–Great post–must read!

  • Tad Wolfe

    I think I have enjoyed the role of a newbie because what can you expect from me I am just a newbie. My post do not have to be that great since I am a newbie. Why there are so many better bloggers out there it is easy to just stay a newbie. I keep downloading ebooks and chasing all the gurus. You made a great point about fear, fear trapped me in the “box factory” for years. Get over your fears and start living your live.

  • http://www.RoyNaim.com Roy Naim

    For that I say cheers. Enjoy being a newbie but don't be afraid to try out intermediate for Call Of Duty. I like that a lot. Well, not the game…I mean the concept and from there go to Advance and from there….whatever comes next…

  • http://twitter.com/kevincumbria/status/9665623899 Kevin Tea

    Are you too scared to become a hero? http://bit.ly/9Fmn5s from @nhangen

  • http://twitter.com/wchingya/status/9673025180 Ching Ya

    RE: @nhangen I haven't watched the guys' performances yet, the ladies are ok to me, still hoping to find that 'spark' … http://disq.us/czz7z

  • http://www.wchingya.com wchingya

    I haven't watched the guys' performances yet, the ladies are ok to me, still hoping to find that 'spark' that shines the stage somehow. :-) I agree completely, the winner may not be the best singer, but the one that can make people remember, with originality, likability (referring to genuine, truthful to oneself) and someone who really, really want this! The hero who is not afraid to be the best of him/herself and proves that he/she deserves the vote. Mostly about personality, the presence portrayed.

    Stepping out of comfort zone is hard, but always inspires me with new motivations whenever I did. Whether good or bad experiences, those are what shaping the inner us that could be a lot stronger than we thought. ^^ “there's a hero, if you look inside your heart…” — time to let him/her shine.

    What I love about your posts, Nathan, is you always give us something to think about. That's what stands out that drives me back for more. Keep up the great work.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • http://twitter.com/timzager/status/9678108577 Tim Zager

    Are You Too Scared to Become a Hero? http://ow.ly/1pidhS via (@nhangen)– on becoming a rockstar.

  • http://twitter.com/lisabarone/status/9683681302 Lisa Barone

    Don't be afraid to be a rockstar from @nhangen http://tinyurl.com/y8l6oxh LOVE. IT. #youcankickass

  • http://twitter.com/joem32/status/9683816096 Joe Minock

    RT @LisaBarone: Don't be afraid to be a rockstar from @nhangen http://tinyurl.com/y8l6oxh LOVE. IT. #youcankickass

  • http://twitter.com/tlockemy/status/9684839053 Therese Pompa

    Are You Too Scared to Become a Hero? http://bit.ly/9q5H5e (Much easier said than done, but so very true)

  • http://twitter.com/lauraorban/status/9686610279 Laura Orban

    Good stuff. RT @LisaBarone: Don't be afraid to be a rockstar from @nhangen http://tinyurl.com/y8l6oxh LOVE. IT. #youcankickass

  • http://www.integralwebsolutions.co.za/Blog.aspx Robert Bravery

    You got it.

  • http://jimijones.com/ Jimi Jones

    Wonderful and inspiring piece, Nathan.

    If we are going to lead we have to act like leaders, be an authority figure and show your self -confidence. I know of no leader that did not cross a zone of discomfort, these are things that just have to be conquered. This is why some lead the way, while others stand and wait for someone else to point out the trail.

    I learned a lesson long ago in life: If you don't know where you're going, nobody is going with you.

    Speaking of American Idol, one of my best friends' son was a participant this year. he did not go all the way of course, but he'll be fine.
    here is a short post I wrote on Seth Rollins. http://jimijones.com/seth-rollins-american-idol/

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    Exactly right Jimi, it's all about getting comfortable being uncomfortable.

    If you aren't spreading your wings, you'll never learn how to far.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    That's it right there. It's easy, and it's a way out. The problem is you never end up truly committing, and that's when you miss out.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    That's true. It's all about having presence.

  • http://www.theinfopreneur.net/ TheInfoPreneur

    Dude American Ideal….. OK moving on,

    I'm all for getting out there and in the mixer in terms of hero persona I would think I'm more of a Jack type bloke a hot head the type that jumps right in, not always the way to do it and it makes us unstable but most likely to lead the way.

    OK we need to really talk about your TV habits lol

  • http://www.blackbeltguide.com/ Marc Winitz

    “The problem though, is that 95% of them don’t have what it takes to make it work, either through a lack of skill, desire, or dedication.”

    I think this pretty much sums up most people that are not success focused.

    I am not sure I can agree on the use of “power phrases” although I understand what you are saying and why you are saying it. There is power in being understated if it's done correctly. Perhaps that doesn't apply digitally, but I am not sure that matters.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    haha…I was just hanging out with the fam.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    I think you're right. Far too many people aren't willing to persevere through the tough times. They've conditioned themselves to quit.

    As for understating…you can still do that with authority. In those cases, intention works well. My point is that you just can't talk with your tail between your legs.

  • http://thelifething.com/ Jonny

    Although I good article I will indeed have to lock you for watching American Idol. I am sorry but it is a principle.

  • http://happyandblue2.ca Happy and Blue 2

    Umm..Daughtry lost on American Idol.
    He “won” later when he became a success after losing on the show.

    In my experience leaders are just people who when confronted with a problem do something while everyone else waits.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    That's true (I was in Afghanistan at the time, so I didn't see that season), but he was still a crowd and fan favorite. Like you said…stepping up to the plate.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    haha…principles like that change when you become an old man like I am ;)

  • http://happyandblue2.ca Happy and Blue 2

    Umm..Daughtry lost on American Idol.
    He “won” later when he became a success after losing on the show.

    In my experience leaders are just people who when confronted with a problem do something while everyone else waits.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    That's true (I was in Afghanistan at the time, so I didn't see that season), but he was still a crowd and fan favorite. Like you said…stepping up to the plate.

  • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

    haha…principles like that change when you become an old man like I am ;)

  • http://twitter.com/richlazzara/status/9829524682 Rich Lazzara

    RT @nhangen Are You Too Scared to Become a Hero? http://bit.ly/9Fmn5s

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