A few years ago at my old website I wrote a post based on an article in The Atlantic about one’s odds of becoming famous. I edited and moved the article to this site in 2021: Your Odds: 0.0086.
Recently, a reader emailed me to tell me he disagreed with that post. He suggested that it’s much more possible to become famous than that 0.0086 statistic suggests. He also thought my original article was too negative.
We traded a few emails and I made some excuses as to why fame has alluded me. Much of my reasoning seems perfectly valid. I went back to college, started a family, and had to provide. I got divorced, became a single dad. But when I really think about it those are still excuses.
The reader kept saying, “there’s more to it, Dan.” He makes a fair point.
He pointed out that becoming famous is more than mostly luck as my essay suggested. I agree, although luck does often play a large role. Hard work and connections are also important.
The 0.0086 stat is based on the entire world’s population. I’m sure your odds increase in the United States. Odds also increases for those who set out to obtain fame. Most people in this world do not seek fame. So can we put a true number on your chances of becoming famous? Probably not.
In America, your chances are probably just as good as most anyone else’s. So are mine. You want to know the truth?
I think the things that hold one back the most are lack of confidence and the fear of success. I’ll admit that I’ve struggled with both. I’ve often held back. I haven’t pushed hard enough to make connections. I hesitate to blow my own horn.
Distractions and priorities are also huge. In today’s world we are easily distracted. We don’t always focus on our drive to succeed. I’ve read a lot of music biographies. One thing most famous musicians have in common is that they were driven to make it.
So is it too late? Never. Am I personally filled with expectations or a burning desire to become famous? Not sure it’d be all it’s cracked up to be, but more recognition for one’s artistic talent might be nice. – dse
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