“She’s my idol.” We’ve all said it before. We are drawn to those who embody the things we desire to be, or dream we can become. Through the lens of living your muse, we often talk about getting in touch with your inner inspiration, your personal voice, and your individual identity, but looking to outside role models can help spark a personal vision with which to align. Stepping outside of ourselves and drawing inspiration from another can give us whole new ways to imagine our desired world, story, and goals.
When we hear the word “idol”, our minds usually go straight to celebrities, or the ultra-successful, in the most commonly accepted sense of the word. People who have reached fame, fortune, or influence on a broad scale. We see these figures as the ones who have “made it”. They’ve reached the pinnacle of success, and they live in their passion. This idea is particularly poignant when we look at an event like SXSW, currently running in Austin. It’s two weeks dedicated to bringing crowds together to experience the creations and influence of some of the most relevant artists, thinkers, and creators. We sit wide-eyed, bewildered by their ability to turn their passion into a successful life and career. This sense of amazement can be incredibly inspiring, reminding us that greatness is possible and pushing us to reach beyond what we’ve ever imagine is possible. But the key here is to let that feeling of inspiration give us drive and determination, rather than trying to model our lives after the lives of others. We won’t all be rockstars, CEOs or billionaires, but we can apply that same fire of passion that great influencers have ignited in themselves to get where they want to go. To live your muse is not to seek the same path as another; it’s to create your own, with passion and authenticity at the core of it all.
There is one thing that’s hard to recognize, and even harder to really believe: when you strip away the reach, the glamour, and the fame, there is nothing separating a star’s potential from your own potential. At your core, you are both human beings filled with raw passion and purpose. You might channel your passions into a different result from that of an artist, or scientist, or author, but passion is passion, all the same. What we need to know and believe in our hearts is that regardless of notoriety or reputation, our impact can be just as significant and powerful. I think this is why we have such a strong tendency to lean towards idolizing musicians, because their passion is so evident in their work - they pour their hearts out on stage, night after night, year after year. It’s such a tangible and clear expression of talent. It’s not always easy for the average person to identify what they're passionate about and express it to the world, but we know we have the desire to live fiercely, with passion.
When I was growing up, performers and artists who were “making it” were the first people I looked to as idols. I have a long history with theater and performance, and the fire it ignited in me was, at one time, the most powerful out of anything I had ever pursued. Something about the lights, the crowd, the colors, and creating something beautiful with my fellow performers gave me this indescribable sense of joy and happiness. But as I got older, I realized that this passion for performance didn’t necessarily mean I was destined for a life on the stage, but it was helping me learn the true, gritty meaning of passion. What it means to lead with passion and heart, and bring that authentic energy into everything you do. As I started exploring different career paths that strayed from the performance-focused one I had always imagined, I surrendered to the idea that I needed to create my own unique vision for my life, with passion at my core, rather than model my vision after those I idolized. This has set me on a path toward a fulfilling career and lifestyle that nourishes all of my passions, not just my love for creativity. So when you’re standing in the crowd, watching your favorite artist, speaker, or entrepreneur do what they do best, learn and become inspired by their expression of passion. Your projection of your own passion will look completely different from theirs, but it is just as valid, and just as important in leaving a positive influence on the world.
Stars aside, we have the opportunity, every single day, to draw inspiration from the people we interact with in our normal lives. Unlike stars, everyday people are the troops on the ground - keeping each other going through long days of work, giving each other authentic moments of joy, and providing support and guidance during challenging times. While ultra-successful figures might fill our hearts with that indescribable sense of inspiration, the people in our daily lives are the ones that help us power through the realities of normal life. Everyday idols are more relatable, and we have the privilege of actually knowing them on a personal level - this is an incredible opportunity to draw inspiration from every connection we have. Let your closest confidante inspire you to be a better friend. Let the boldest member of your team inspire you to take risks and have confidence in the workplace. Let the family that has had their struggles but remains committed to each other inspire you to be a more connected mother, sister, aunt, or cousin.
Greatness does not have a universal definition. When you look to a “superstar” and feel that swell of inspiration and determination in your chest, allow that feeling to drive you closer to your vision for your life. Whether you want to be a keynote speaker at SXSW, or you want to be a vibrant, happy mom, it will take work, focus, and fire to get you there. And whether you’re reaching millions or you’re reaching one, you have the star power the world needs. Lead with your muse, and fulfill your vision for your life.
COO & Executive Brand Curator