Like millions of others, Kate and I were shocked at the sudden death of Michael Jackson. Even though we were on vacation, we were riveted to the web and television to see and read about the news.
When all the dust settles, two facts will be apparent about his death. First, he was an amazing talent for singing, showmanship, and music. One can argue the best of all time or not, but one cannot argue with the record sales, concert sales and and the building of a true brand.
Second, it is entirely clear that Michael Jackson’s personal life was a disaster. The causes for it are open to question and I don’t have the answers as to why his personal life ended up the way it did. I can speculate that he never had the ability to grow up and learn about how to evaluate and trust advisors and their advice. I can speculate that he never had the ability to manage his own affairs. One can argue he was a good father, but the truth is he died early, most likely from drugs. Drugs and fatherhood are a poor combination.
Clearly, a career — even a wildly successful career — is not enough. We need to be successful people or nothing is worth the career in the end.
That’s the career lesson from Michael Jackson: we need to build skills and competencies to be successful people. Michael didn’t have the ability to do that and it cost him his life.
What are the skills and competencies we need to build? I’ll offer a few:
In this ugly recession, it is understandable that people are concerned, or frightened, over their career, their work and their jobs. We get overly focused on the next position, whether or not we will get a raise or even if the company will survive.
But without building the other skills outside of our career to become a successful person, all that worry will be for naught.
Last night, after getting home from our vacation, Kate and I watched a lot of YouTube to see Michael Jackson perform. We easily forget the talent that he had until it was all brought back to us. And when Michael sang Billie Jean and did his patented moonwalk dance for the first time, Kate and I did the moonwalk as well, celebrating the career he had.
The moonwalk was joyful — and incredibly saddening. A great talent truly wasted.
What skills do you need to learn to become a successful person?
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