Freedom from the bondage of fame is very empowering.
I doubt that many of you aspire to be an anonymous poet, who dies in obscurity to become famous years after your death.
I can imagine that instead you are looking for ways to build a career that rewards you and your family with security and even prosperity.
Focusing on fame will help us picture our goals. Having goals will help us lay out the path to success. But success will come from building what is great inside us.
Freeing ourselves to work without the weight of fame can unleash a level of greatness that most of us can’t imagine that we have.
Emily Dickinson is one of America’s greatest poets. You do not have to be interested in poetry to understand what her writing tells us about individual greatness. She published only a few poems before her death in 1886. She didn’t become famous during her lifetime. At the time of her death, few people realized that she had written over 1700 poems.
She seemed to have mixed feelings about fame.
“Fame is a bee.
It has a song–
It has a sting–
Ah, too, it has a wing.”
The Focus for Success
Her greatness came from many things. One of these things is that she wrote freely and privately. Her unique writing power flowed without restriction to conventional forms of writing. Focused on her writing and not fame, she changed the way the world views poetry.
Emily Dickinson read Shakespeare and other classical writers. She read the writings of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Charlotte Bronte, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Blake, and other famous writers.
But whatever influence these writers had on Dickinson, their influence did not restrict her individual and unique way of writing. Her writing was experimental. Her poems had different lengths of lines. She wrote poetry without rhymes. Her poetry was about her personal experiences, but not the way others wrote about their experience. Her poems were not narratives poems with a beginning, middle, or end. She imitated no one.
She wrote about the world looked and felt to her. In the privacy of her home, she gave herself the freedom for openness and honesty to describe the world as she saw it without imitating the styles and themes of other great writers.
Perhaps fame would have intimidated her. Fame may have suppressed her willingness to write freely without the interference of editors or the fear of criticism.
What her life tells me is that greatness begins now. Greatness is the result of the things we do now and the freedom we give ourselves to do the things that make us great. Free yourself to generate your individual greatness. Your greatness may never make you famous, but it is unlikely that you will become famous without first becoming great.