I'd been working on my post for my political philosophy blog when I saw this Tweet by Mike Cernovich:
The world is full of good artists who are convinced they are great, expect the rewards of greatness, but they are really just good enough.— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) October 2, 2016
Good at art + good at sales and marketing = take you to higher levels than simply being a great writer/artist. https://t.co/6TStZP4WYj— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) October 2, 2016
You want proof that this is true? Go look at the music business. Madonna is a good enough singer and dancer who sold herself brilliantly to a far longer career than many of her peers, even many of her would-be successors. J.K. Rowling is a competent writer, but by no means a genius. What she is, however, is just savvy enough to know what delivers the fat checks (Potter) and what doesn't (everything else), so she'll be around a while if she can keep feeding good Potter to her audience. (This is also true of many other SF/F writers who did very well financially; good enough talent and just enough savvy to know where to apply it.) Peyton Manning? Good athlete, but smarter at selling himself.
The great musicians? Often, as Cernovich says, not that good at selling themselves. They become the sessions musicians that everyone wants on their albums. They become the brilliant character actors that have long, steady careers in key supporting roles.
In short, they become second-fiddles to the shot-callers who may suck by comparison, but are better at selling. "Puss In Boots" applies to those people, and it only becomes an issue when said great one becomes dissatisfied with where talent alone gets him; if you want to be The Greatest Character Actor EVAR! then nail that shit, and enjoy the never-ending applause when you get your moment during the Oscars when they go over everyone of note who died in the past year. If you want more than that, you had better learn to sell.
Monomaniacal focus on one skill gets you only so far. You need a suite of skills that you can stack together, forming Voltron-like into a greater whole, if you want to get wherever you want to go in life. As I write, I need to learn to sell. I don't resent Cernovich's success. I'm inspired by it, which is why I pay attention to him and talk a lot about him: he's got stuff I want to learn, to know, to master and I learn best by watching others and reading what they write- by observation, directly or at some remove, in other words.
To put this in terms many of you will find easier to comprehend: Life runs on Charisma. Not Strength. Not Intelligence. Not Wisdom. Not Dexterity. Not Constitution. Charisma. Stop thinking it's a dump stat, folks. Learn how to sell yourself; with that talent, the rest of your stack will suddenly and dramatically increase in appeal and thereby in value, allowing you to go where you want and do what you want in this life.