I Wouldn’t Wish Some Success On Anyone…Especially My Friends

We all want to be successful.  However you define success, we crave and work for it for ourselves, and most of us enjoy seeing the success of our friends and family.

There was a time, though, that I wished against the type of success that some of my friends, and looking back, I have no regrets about my wishes.  As it turns out, my wish came true. They weren’t successful as they had hoped.  And I think that is the best outcome.

So what success were they looking for that they didn’t get?

Simple. They were in a band and they wanted to make it big.

A few college buddies got together after school and decided to form a band.  I was not musically inclined, but good on the business and money side of things, so I was their manager, responsible for booking dates and keep track of the finances.

The band was a lot of fun and they actually had a pretty good run where they played regularly at a few Metro Detroit area spots.  But, when they started dreaming of bigger and better things, I secretly wished that they wouldn’t get there.

Why?  Not because I didn’t think they were good (they were) and not because I wouldn’t have enjoyed seeing them get financially successful (and riding their coattails as much as they’d allow *lol*), but because I saw what fame and fortune all too often did.

These were really good friends of mine.  They weren’t into drugs.  They weren’t into blowing money on stupid stuff.  They weren’t into trashing hotel rooms.  They weren’t into sleeping around.  They were good guys that just loved having fun, and you see so many stories about how money and/or celebrity can change that.  I didn’t want that for them. I knew the odds and I knew that if this band ended up taking off, at least one if not all would probably be changed somehow.

And not for the better.

As it turns out, the band flamed out before they could hit it big.

Two of the guys I wasn’t all that close with, but of the three that I was friends with, they probably all are glad for the life they had, even if they never got their names or music in front of everybody.

One of my buddies is married with two kids, and a vice president of commercial lending at a bank, where he’s worked for over 16 years (right out of college), something that’s relatively unheared of these days.

Another buddy is married with a kid on the way.  He and I don’t really talk much anymore, but he’s had a professional career that has taken him into multiple industries and he’s had the opportunity to buy and sell houses in four states.  He’s a wanderer who still dreams, but I admire that.

The last of  the guys is a math teacher, and coaches football at a local high school.  He can play the drums like nobody I’ve ever heard, but he’s one of those guys that you know is making a difference to kids and that they’ll remember him.  In other words, he’ll be famous in a much more important way, albeit to a smaller group of people.

You never know the ‘what if’, but for these three friends of mine, I can honestly say that I’m glad the ‘what if’ never took place.  They wouldn’t be the men that they are today, and I’m guessing that each of them, now that they’ve had a chance to enjoy the lives without fame and fortune, would agree that they’re happier not having had the fame and fortune they once wanted.

Just like I wished.

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19 thoughts on “I Wouldn’t Wish Some Success On Anyone…Especially My Friends

  1. You know, I get the essence of what you’re saying, but I really disagree. I came from a town with a very strong music scene, so I saw countless friends of mine “make it” with varying degrees of success, and I can tell you, 99% of those who are able to make a living doing music don’t get sucked into the “rock star life” of drugs and douchebaggery. Plus, unless you’re in the top, top, TOP of the musical hierarchy, professional musicians don’t really make that much money. Most “successful” musicians really just make enough to support themselves and their families, if they’re really, really lucky. Some turn out to be jerks, but they were generally speaking already jerks. Most musicians who make a point of keeping their feet on the ground after success are able to do so.

    That’s not to say that things didn’t work out well for your friends going the other direction, but I do think it’s unfair to speculate what might have happened if they’d taken another path.

    • Thanks for your thought. I was referring to what I thought might have happened if they’d reached that ‘top 1%’ that you made reference to where they hit the big time. As they were mostly in the professional world as well, I don’t think any of them had any interest in doing it full time unless it meant going all the way to the top. I realize it was somewhat ‘all or nothing’ but it was the ‘all’ that I was making reference to. I realize it’s a narrow perspective but it’s the one I was taking, just the same.

  2. (And also, most of my musician friends have been getting married, having kids, buying houses, etc. around the same time as my non-musician friends. They’re mostly just regular people, except with a job that requires them to be out of town a lot.)

  3. Success is just accomplishing your goals. There are a lot of people who are happy and successful and are not famous. Some may say they are not rich either, but they are happy. I think that is important!

    • Very true. Success has many names. As I said in a previous comment, I was taking the narrow perspective of ‘rock star’ for the context of this article.

  4. At first when I started reading your article, I wasn’t really sure where you were going. But I’m glad about the conclusion. You’re absolutely right. Sometimes people want to be a rock star, model, actor, whatever – but what they really need to do is grow up and accept being an adult and being responsible. As you said – it’s better that the “what if” never took place.

    • True. Everybody dreams of fame and fortune and thinks they won’t have the problems that go along with it, but in actuality, that seems pretty tough.

  5. There are a lot of people who are happy and successful and are not famous. Some may say they are not rich either, but they are happy. I think that is important……………..!!

    • Very true. I have two beautiful kids and I’d consider myself a success if they were happy and healthy through their years. Nothing tied to money there…

  6. I have no desire at all to be famous. I suppose the celebrity lifestyle would be fun for a little while but it’s mostly empty. I’d rather remain anonymous (but exceedingly wealthy!) so I could have the freedom to go to the store or the beach or wherever without being disturbed.

  7. I enjoyed this post. But I too somewhat disagree with your final statement. I have a musician friend who does very well for himself and is not a jerk. You can’t assume that if they became career musicians they would become jerks.

    • To give perspective, I was referring not just to career musicians but if they had hit it all the way to the top. Rock stars, so to speak.

  8. I think you make some great points. There are some people that handle success well and others that don’t. Based on what you know of your friends’ personalities, I’m sure that what you were wishing for them had the best intentions.

    I actually have a post planned on a similar topic; specifically, what you were alluding to at the end–how people respond to their success. And, much like you feared, it’s not always pretty.

  9. I understand your rationale behind not wanting your friends to be successful in the music business because of how many people are destroyed when they make it big. Yet, I don’t feel it is right for us to decide what type of success is good for someone and what isn’t.

    Some people can live in the limelight and still stay very grounded. I personally would not want to live that type of life, but maybe one of your friends could have been one of the successful and grounded ones — and be very happy in the process.

    I know your heart was in the right place when you wished them success of a different kind than in the music business. When I find that my idea of what is right for someone is different than theirs, I claim the highest and greatest good for them. This always works out in a positive way for them and me.

    I do think that your friends are lucky to have someone who cares as much about them as you do.

    • You always hear about the celebs that go crazy or blow all their money, but you’re right, there ARE success stories where they stay grounded and do responsible things with their money. I would have liked to think that my friends would have all fit into this category had they struck it big, but you just get scared of the outcome when it doesn’t go that way, which was the perspective I was taking.

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