What Elvis Can Teach You About Your Career and Life

4 years ago by in Action Not Words, Featured Articles, Leadership Tagged: , ,

elvis-presleyI know, a dead rock star seems like an odd choice as an example for today’s upwardly mobile marketing pro. But bear with me.

Even if you’re on the younger side, you know who Elvis is. That’s why I can type his name in this post without using his last name. He is the biggest star to ever grace the planet. That’s just so.

But what can Elvis teach us about our career and happiness?

A whole helluva lot.

Elvis’ star – perhaps like yours right now in your career – burned bright. A young, attractive, energetic young man with unbridled dreams and unmistakable talent, Elvis ascended quickly from the ranks of an unknown truck driver to matinee idol. He did so through hard work, talent and a willingness to go against the grain. He was the original pop culture rebel.

Much like an ascending business star, he did what every it would take to reach the top. He toured in cars, played places where he was assaulted for playing “negro music” and even was threatened with arrest for his now seemingly benign gyrations on stage. You may be at a point in your career where you’re doing the same: you’re working hard, building your personal brand, going against the grain and catching the notice of executives and others who notice your talent.

Anyone who knows the second half of Elvis’ professional life knows it did not end well. Dead at the age of 42 of a heart attack, Elvis’ star remained bright but dimmed as he settled in and primarily focused on middle-of-the-road work. He was no longer the innovator and instead became the normal or even the tired. He lost a little of his mojo. Although as a life-long fan, he still contributed even up to the time of his death. But it just wasn’t the same.

What derailed Elvis’ career and why does it matter to you? Simple: creative boredom. Creative boredom and the acceptance of the status quo can also derail your career and sink your happiness.

Much too often, we settle for just good enough. We get beaten down by everyday demands and we lose a little of our edge. We become complacent even when we’re still ambitious. Settling for just good enough – settling for the paycheck, a dead-end job with flexible hours, and a cloistered work culture that doesn’t allow free thinking and experimentation can spell doom for your personal and professional happiness. This literally killed Elvis (along with prescription drugs) and it can kill your success too.

Never forget to wake each day striving for greatness. Never accept the status quo and never lose that optimism and excitement you have had since the beginning of your career. While reality sets in, don’t let it kill your vision and desire to change the world no matter what your role. You have to reinvent yourself all of the time. Just when you think you’ve “made it,” shake it up. You can achieve even more greatness. You can change the world around you but you can’t if you’re bored, unchallenged and unmotivated.

Elvis wrapped himself in a cocoon when his creative boredom reached new heights. He was a victim of fame, but more so a victim of his inability to take risks, break out of the ordinary and reach his full potential.

Don’t let that happen to you. Never lose your edge and never play it safe.




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