Whether you were a fan of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, or one who saw only his idiosyncrasies, there are many lessons for all of us in his trials and tribulations, turbulence, yet triumph. As a teacher and healer at heart, I was in awe with the connectedness he had with millions of people from all over the world. I have been obsessed observing and studying the magnetism of this man who had been somewhat in hiding in recent years. The tragedies of such a talent can be explained another time, but it is often the price paid for fame and fortune by creative, sensitive people living in an insensitive world.
As the author of a book on influence and persuasion, Forget Selling, I see Michael Jackson as the icon of influence. His charm and charisma was mesmerizing. But what was the magic? What are the secrets to his success so we can all optimize our potential for a future of unlimited possibilities. In fact, Michael disputed that the sky was the limit, as he saw NO limits. That is secret # 1.
Lessons from Michael
1. Possibility Thinking Only. There are no limits to what you may accomplish, except those self-imposed by limitations of the mind. All of the champions I had interviewed in my book,
Winning! had a flash of their greatness at an early age.
2. Be an Imitator. It was reported that Michael could watch the movement and maneuvers of the most accomplished and imitate their work. Whether it was singing, dancing, or even marketing, he would observe, integrate, and implement.
3. Be an Innovator. After he mastered imitating “the greats,” he would take it up a notch and become even greater. That kind of creation and innovation is what sets us apart from the masses as we transcend from being just good to great!
4. Be Different and Dimensional. Whether it was wearing just one glove when the rest of the world was wearing two, if you want to rise above you must stand out and be the purple cow.
5. Make Change a Habit. Change and change again, and again. Once people have you figured out, you become boring and they become disinterested. Change and newness renews excitement and keeps people engaged. This is true for personal relationships as well as a business strategy.
6. The Element of Surprise. Kids like to play peek-a-boo, but we never lose our love for the seduction of the surprise. Michael sang songs that if with your eyes closed, you would think the angels had descended upon you. But then he portrayed the “bad guy” with equal conviction of character. Be diverse in your thinking and be willing to risk new roles to avoid the ruts and routines that steal our excitement and passion for life.
7. God Is in the Details. Like his flawless memorial service, Michael always performed to perfection and made a personal commitment to always “top” himself in the next performance. He was perfection in motion. He studied, researched, and rehearsed endlessly. As a child it was reported that he always had a pencil and paper in hand to write down quotes and words of wisdom, but he also wrote down new words and concepts as a personal assignment.
8. Be Curious.The desire to learn more with an undying inquisitiveness propels us to explore, discover, and grow. It is the spark of all innovation and fans the fires of brilliance.
9. Love Is the Way. Come always from a loving place within. Everyone who intimately knew the person, not just the personality, referred to his love and kindness. Love is the most positive, powerful force in the universe. If Emmet Fox is right, “If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world.” Try it!
10. Commit to Never Quit. Know who you are (your unique gift), what you want (your vision), and have a plan or strategy of how to get there. Be the “come-back” kid. At age 50, Michael was about to come back one last time. In the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never quit.” It is also wise to know what you don’t want or to have a “NOT To Do” list as well. Eliminate the distractions in your life that derail you from your purpose, passion, and mission. That may include activities and people who are no longer contributing to your ultimate success, happiness, and joy.
11. Dare to Dream…and Dream BIG. Michael grew up in Gary, Indiana, from very humble beginnings, but he dreamed big and was driven to manifest his desire to be the very best which is without dispute. Mission accomplished. He referred to Michelangelo’s wisdom in stating that the creator must die but his works will live on. What belief do you have that moves you in the direction of your dreams? In my first motivational keynote, I also referred to Michelangelo. “In every rock of marble I see a statue, I merely chisel away so that others may see what I already know. How can your dream come true, if you have not first dreamed the dream?” Your journey to greatness begins with a dream.
12. Be True to Yourself. March to your own drummer. A singer must sing, a dancer must dance, and a writer must write. Know your God-given, unique gift and don’t die with the music in you. YOU’VE GOT TO SING YOUR SONG.
As I reflect on his life, it reminds me of the magnetism, influence, connectedness, and generosity of my own father. He only had thousands at his funeral, not millions, but he lived in a small town of just 3,000 in rural Wisconsin. He was much older, 80 at the time of his passing on, and he was not a celebrity. But, like Michael Jackson, he was a person of passion. When you have passion and purpose you do become a person of power and influence. It is simple math and cannot be denied. He also loved music and danced as if he were a spirit without a body. Music is the universal language of love and thus breaks down all barriers and boundaries. It unifies people of all creeds, color, and cadences. It gives soul to the universe wings to the mind. If Emmet Fox was right, “A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all…If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world.”