There are so many influential people in this world. So many entertaining. So many powerful and respected. Some voted into their position and many more are placed on a pedestal because of popularity and society placing so much emphasis on their career. Movie stars. Pro athletes. Rock Stars. Politicians. Radio and tv personalities. Faces that are always in the public eye and our youth are continuously striving to reach that level to one day be “lucky” enough to be “like Mike.”

I am a firm believer in dedicating ones life to a path of excellence. A firm believer in being unrealistic. A firm believer in overcoming insurmountable odds through the harshest conditions. But do you want the limelight because you want to be where you “think” they are or because you truly have a passion to pursue that career and be the one that other people will strive to be. Creating standards that will be the bar that everyone envisions to reach.

I have said before that I went to college to be an electrical engineer at a top university because a high school physics professor told me that I was good at math. He never asked me what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. And at the time, I was too ashamed to tell anyone that I wanted to write for a living. I had won so many city wide and place very high in national writing competitions that even my mother did not know I had entered because being a poet just seemed so corny and not profitable for a person that everyone deemed oozed of so much potential. I lived my life to make my family proud, my friends happy, and my teachers pleased and impressed with my performance and success.

They wanted me to be the next….you fill in the blanks. Nikola tesla. Steve jobs. Bill gates. Warren buffet. But no one pushed me to be the one and only “JAMES WOODS!” I have learned to

“Be the best you that you can be because everyone else is already taken.”

“Success does not consist of you looking out the window, but only that you look in the mirror”

I have been blessed enough to hang out with celebrities. Famous actors, musician, Singers, spokesmen and women, artists, chefs, businessmen, millionaires and billionaires. And you want to know the funny part. They are actually all human. They use the bathroom the same. Eat the same. Put on one pant leg at a time just like me. Laugh at the same jokes. Go to the same places. Listen to the same music and watch the same tv shows. Only difference is that we don’t put engineers and teachers on pedestals that taught them and created the technology that they used so that they can always be in the public eye. Whether it is a cellphone upload to YouTube, tmz, or New York Times. Or a camera, 3d animation program for a video, movie, or voice over. Or the tablets, computers, or devices that brings them all into our homes.

About a decade ago I was invited to a thanksgiving party by a well known actor. I was drinking their drinks. Eating their food. Cracking jokes and even performed a few spoken word pieces for them. Several hours later, the homeowner approached me and apologized for being such a terrible host and invited me on a tour of her brownstone. The entire time I thought she was a 20 something year old daughter of the owner of the house. She led me upstairs and low and behold she was the spokesperson for loreal. Magazine covers and photos with ton of celebrities laced all the walls of this one room. And everyone in the house was a famous actor, model, or producer. I was completely oblivious but the moral of the story is that until I knew who they were, I treated them like new friends. Not praised and worshipped celebrities. I continued through the night and eventually left and headed back to the Long Island railroad. I went to a store at the station and opened up a magazine and what was in it. A 5 page article of the family and home that I had just left. Janine Green.

Being awestruck is the quickest way to lose the respect of people that just want to be treated like everyone else. You are amazing. Show people that you are not a product of media and your favorite band.

Give praise to the people that deserve it in Your life. Not the people that bring you a sense of entertainment a few minutes at a time but create moments and memories all the time. Yes, I have moments that I doubt myself no matter how much I have accomplished but at the end of the day I think I’m pretty awesome even if no one else thinks so. My singing voice could raise the dead just to tell me to shut up. I was pretty athletic but professional sports never called my name. I’m a believable actor to my friends and my million and one elaborate and animated stories. But what makes me different is that I am different. Point blank. That’s it. There is no better me and there never will be. My goal is for you to see that. Now I want to see how great you are so stop trying to be someone you are not. Because you can’t be someone else 24 hours a day. Eventually you will slip up and people will wonder why you weren’t just you because I know “you” is far better then any other version of anyone else I’ll ever see from you.