I remember thinking at HS graduation that our valedictorian would one day rule the world. There’s smart, there’s wicked smart, there’s OMG I better keep my mouth shut or she’ll figure out how stupid I am smart, then there’s, like, spooky I’m-not-certain-she’s-a-carbon-based-life-form kinda smart. She was a little beyond that last one. Dept of Defense Dependent Schools have a tendency to churn out stellar overachievers, and she was chief among us. In our class of 200 graduates, we had 3 West Point appointees, 3 Annapolis appointees, 4 Air Force Academy appointees, two had full scholarships to Ivy League colleges, one went to Julliard, I was the major slacker of my crowd going off to Texas A&M to major in Chemical/Petroleum Engineering. Brilliant, talented, athletic, assertive, personable, imaginative, focused…it was exciting to think about what Tammy would do with that vast potential.
I went to a HS class reunion in San Diego a few years ago and got to find out what she did with all that potential. Turns out these days she works part time developing pictures and spends an inordinate amount of time arguing with her hypercritical, Albanian mother-in-law about customs restrictions on bringing back lemons from former communist block countries.
I had to wonder: WTF? But then I got to thinking of the military adage: Any man can be a Colonel, but it takes a wife to be a General.
She never found her “wife,” never had that one person who could push, refine and hone her talents into something useful to her.
Think about the “stellar” people you could name. Yes, there are people who seem to find that inner voice, hear the beat of that different drummer and continue to march, but mostly the superstars are the people with an amazing talent AND someone who inspires, motivates, refines, refuses to accept excuses. It’s the power behind the throne that mitigates and neutralizes the voices that drag them down into mediocrity.
Augustus had his Livia
Elvis Presley had his Colonel Parker
Tommy Franks had his Katherine
Napoleon had his Josephine
Tara Lipinski had her parents
I’ve read articles on Josh Groban, the singer who’s taken over the Pop-opera genre with The Voice. Dear lord, can that man sing. But sing is what he does. His managers negotiate his contracts, decide his bookings, make arrangements for shows, hire the bus drivers, pick out his clothes and order his food. They haul his behind around in a bus, chuck him up on stage when they get to the show and then pack him away in ice (or more exactly in the back of the bus with an X-box) until the next stage is ready. Without his managers, he’d be just a fantastic tenor in the local Lutheran choir someplace.
What I’m wondering is if you or I could recognize this king-maker in our own lives or if that influence might but a might too uncomfortable for us. Or perhaps you or I were called to be Vulcan to someone else’s metal. Do you recognize your role?