Can you take the heat?
I don’t know if I can.
I mean I can’t even leave up a twitter post I feel uncomfortable about for more than 5 minutes.
I had paraphrased Bob Lefsetz, saying that “even though we all have a relative that’s gay or a grandparent that was an immigrant, we still can’t unite on civil rights.”
But there’s a fine line behind speaking your truth, and “poking” people in the chest with something to incite an emotion. So I took it down.
It had me thinking about everyone who’s been put into a major spotlight.
Can you be important and not be controversial?
I really can’t think of too many examples of anyone who has made a major impact in the world that wasn’t controversial in some way.
Hell, the even FBI tried to get MLK to commit suicide.
Snowden. Climate scientists, The Beatles and Elvis. Warhol.
Politicians, artists, tribe leaders.
Did Mother Teresa have haters? Probably.
So now that makes me wonder if being controversial is actually a benchmark for measuring your work? Maybe it works both ways.
That’s a big responsibility to take on. And a big question to ask yourself before you do important work.
It means willingly subjecting yourself to criticism and outright hatred. The bigger you get the more heat you’ll feel. The bigger you get the further the public microscope will zoom in on your flaws and push back against you.
I hope you stand up. I hope you crush the status quo even though it means you’ll face blowback from those who want to keep it in place.
But you can still pick and choose your battles in a way that keeps you in control.
You can choose which critics to engage with. You can choose to not read any reviews. To turn off the comment section. You can also think this through before you’re suddenly big and famous so you understand what
A few questions to ask yourself before you’re famous:
1. Who is this message for? (understand your audience and the different segments you cater to)
2. Am I appropriately standing up for a cause or am I poking people for a reaction?
3. Have I done enough personal research on this topic to be confident knowing all the different sides?
4. Am I choosing a path to stand up and create a movement, and do I accept what comes with that? (I hope you do).
It’s ok to be a martyr. But don’t fool yourself with dying daily as an intelligent strategy for continually making great art.
Sometimes you’re better skipping the distraction.