Develop a long term memory problem

Posted on July 29, 2009


Buck Rogers

Part of the Comic Con experience is the sighting of stars. The main Exhibition floor is reserved for the A-list celebs like Megan Fox, JJ Abrams, and other forces of nature. Upstairs in the secondary hall, far from the masses, is the place to see all the B-list actors whose stars have dimmed over the years. It’s an interesting motley crew assembled- it’s kind of the final resting stop for the ex-famous before entering into oblivion. Sitting together in one section was Gil Gerard and Erin Grey from the hit TV show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1976) and Tonya Roberts from Sheena (1984).

ComicCon Buck Rogers

As a kid I was a big fan of these actors. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, they were on top of the world. They were on the cover of magazines, guests on shows, and followed by the media. Then they got old. Don’t get me wrong, nothing wrong with that. The problem is that their careers didn’t age with them. Fast forward 30+ years later and they are here at Comic Con signing autographs and answering questions about there old characters from an almost forgotten era. As a fan, it’s great to see these actors out interacting with the public, but it’s also kind of sad. They each had so much potential but their fame is now dependent on a few public appearances at conventions throughout the year.

Creative leadership is a lot like this. It’s so easy to ride the wave of past successes. It might have been a great event you imagined, or a book you wrote, or a marketing campaign that blew up, or a church that you started, but you now live remembering these successes verses creating new ones. And now, your influence, reputation, and impact is based on accomplishments  from your past instead what you are currently doing (or will do). Re-inventing your leadership is hard. It takes a lot of risks and a lot of commitment. Talent will only last for a season (or TV season!) then it too will fade. Remember the formula for creative leadership  influence:

Talent + Hard Work + Luck = Influence

Don’t be the leader that always says “Remember when…’. Forget your past successes. Develop the ability to have a ‘long term memory problem’. Let go of what worked in the past and push yourself to discover the new. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself alone recalling the ‘glory years’ of the past on your way to oblivion. Don’t worry though, there will always be a few fans that will stop by for a pity autograph.

There will always be room for B-list leaders in this world. The problem is that very few people knows they are there.

Read more about the San Diego Comic Con.