Kurt Cobain - The Tragedy of Overwhelming Success
by Kris Deichler, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International
There’s a lot we can learn from legends’ successes, but there is as much, if not more, we can learn from their failures.
One example is a childhood hero of mine, Kurt Cobain - the lead singer / songwriter and guitarist of the hugely successful band Nirvana in the early-mid 1990’s. Nirvana had gone from being a small-time unheard of band from Seattle to one of the biggest names in music in a very short space of time. To date, they have sold over 75 million records worldwide and spearheaded the emergence of an entire new genre of rock music - Grunge.
Despite the success, adoration and fame, Kurt struggled to cope with the pressures of suddenly finding himself in the global spotlight. He was a deeply sensitive man, troubled by his experiences of growing up in a broken home and battled with depression, illness and a heroin addiction. Tragically, on April 8th 1994 he committed suicide, leaving behind his wife Courtney (also a drug addict) and baby daughter Frances.
It would be easy for us to look at Kurt’s level of success and say that he had everything he needed to be happy, but obviously he wasn’t. So what can we learn from this if we too are looking to be more successful in our own lives?
You Character Strength is the Key Not Just Your Talent
One challenge for those who achieve great success in a short period of time is that their strength of character hasn’t been developed enough to cope with the situation. We read time and again of celebrities going off the rails because they struggle to deal with a sudden rise to the top. It's reason enough to see why overcoming our fears, insecurities and building genuine inner strength is so important to prepare us for where we want to go in life. Something Kurt unfortunately lacked was the strength of character to deal with the pressures of where he found himself.
Be Careful Who You Surround Yourself With
If you look more deeply into Kurt’s history you will see that he wasn’t exactly surrounded by positive role-models. His family life was very dysfunctional with a history of alcoholism. Within the rock-scene itself he ended up falling into drugs. The hand of experience could have helped him here in seeing the pitfalls that success can bring. If we want to succeed, we need to connect with upbuilding, supportive people to help us form good, healthy habits and maintain a positive mindset. Many times, that takes work and perseverance to find those people.
Learning From Legends...
Kurt Cobain photo by Maia Valenzuela @ Flickr