1. To become better, study the greats.
Bieber used to sing and dance in front of his bedroom mirror pretending he was Michael Jackson. Say what you will, but since then, he has headlined on the same stages as his role models, sold out the same big-league arenas, and the media frequently compares him to the performers he could once only catch a glimpse of through a TV screen. As a kid he would sing Usher’s songs on his mom’s video camera, until one day he found himself singing with Usher, face to face. The people who have made it, in whatever field you are trying to make it in and whether you agree with their success or not, have made it there for a reason. By studying their path to greatness, we can only get better.
2. Success has no age limit.
We often try to put time frames on our success. We fear the cutoff age of making it big, of publishing that book we’ve been meaning to write, of writing that song that will finally get our music noticed, of becoming the doctor or dancer or construction worker that we’ve always wanted to be. We try to calculate how much money we can make in a lifetime if we start now. Or if we could have started yesterday. Or if our plans get delayed and we can’t start until tomorrow. We get discouraged. But there is no cutoff age. There is no starting age. At 19, Bieber has sold more music and won more awards than many recording artists could dream of, so it’s never too early to get started. Some people say it’s a terrible shame he’s achieved such success, that his music isn’t “music,” but I’ll be the first one to admit I’m not above taking advice from someone who makes that much money just from doing what he loves.
3. Humble beginnings do not confine us to humble endings.
Bieber often talks about how he is now donating to the same charities that he grew up receiving help from. Raised by a single mother in a small Canadian town, he grew up getting food from the local food bank. He recently wrote out a $10,000 check to that food bank. Success doesn’t have to come from being born into a home rife with abundance and opportunity. It comes from putting yourself out there, which brings me to:
4. Put yourself out there.
The kid busking in front of the Avon Theater in Stratford, Ontario wasn’t thinking about becoming an international pop idol. He was thinking about singing to people as they stood outside the venue before going inside for their shows, and maybe, if he was lucky, getting a few bucks thrown into his guitar case. And that same young boy, who came home from school one day and asked his mom if he could enter the local singing contest next month, was just trying to get better at something he enjoyed. Those, as many of us now know, were the videos that ended up on YouTube, ultimately leading to fame. It doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of work and rejection in between but it does mean that success doesn’t always begin with what we think of as “big” opportunities. It begins with putting yourself out there in every way you can. And sometimes it begins with serenading five or six people at a time as they rush past you on the sidewalk.
5. Pay it Forward.
This is hands down my favorite part of Bieber’s popularity. Or of anyone’s popularity, if they take the time to form a real relationship with their fans. If I ever become famous for anything, I already know that the first thing I want to do is make people’s day by reaching out to them, by making them feel important, and the one thing I envy about Bieber’s position is that he can make someone this happy just by showing up to say hi. How cool would it be to garner such excitement from people? And it must be incredible to play on that, to be a person people get that excited to see, where all you have to do is pay attention to them, interact with them, and they are on cloud nine.
It seems a little out of reach at times but, as a young singer said once or twice, “never say never.”