I have been described as a wunderkind. It was meant as a compliment, and or course I took it in the spirit in which it was intended.
But I’d like to state for the record that I am not a wunderkind. I actually think of it as kind of a disparaging term—like overnight success, it’s a faddish sort of celebrity, and disguises the work involved.
Furthermore, name a wunderkind that went on to be a wild success. Mozart. Michael Jackson. LeAnn Rimes. That’s all I got.
I remember about three kids who were going to make it big in country music, like Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift these days. No one remembers those guys anymore. And what’s Micauley Culkin doing these days? How about Jonathan Taylor Thomas?
Sure, a lot of it was hype.
More of it was the short attention span of the public.
And perhaps the kids outgrew their passion for their art.
The fact remains that they are no longer known for their accomplishments.
From what I can see, people aren’t all that interested in how good these kids are. I mean, they’re good, but what people are really enamored with is their potential. If these kids are so good now, what will they be like in 20 years? We like to imagine that they will continue on their tangents. A prodigal pianist at 7, a soloist at 12, a master composer at 18, and then…what? Where do you go from there?
Wunderkinds have to live up to all kinds of expectations. We won’t even go into how difficult and damaging that can be, but how about this; how do you distinguish between what you do for yourself, and what you do to maintain your wunderkind standing?
What I want to be is someone with sustained accomplishments throughout my lifetime. I don’t want to be a shooting star, a flash in the pan. I want to be Haley’s comet, quietly out of the line of sight most of the time, but each reappearance is wildly anticipated. Like Seth Godin’s books.
Repeat after me; not like Mozart, like Beethoven.