You'd think that it's the most important thing in the world. Homecoming queen, student body president, the most Facebook friends, Oscar winner, how many people are waiting in line at the book signing...
Popular is almost never a measure of impact, or genius, or art. Popular rarely correlates with guts, hard work or a willingness to lead (and be willing to be wrong along the way).
I'll grant you that being popular (at least on one day in November) is a great way to get elected President. But in general, the search for popular is wildly overrated, because it corrupts our work, eats away at our art and makes it likely we'll compromise to please the anonymous masses.
Worth considering is the value of losing school elections and other popularity contests. Losing reminds you that the opinion of unaffiliated strangers is worthless. They don't know you, they're not interested in what you have to offer and you can discover that their rejection actually means nothing. It will empower you to even bigger things in the future...
When you focus on delighting an audience you care about, you strip the masses of their power.
I love this kind of thinking. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to do if you work as an employee in a company with any sort of political atmosphere (and, from what I gather, there is no such company that doesn't have such an atmosphere). But, if you have a dream and are still a kid at heart (like me) then this is critical to your success, especially if you want to run your own company, are an artist of any sort, or want to change the world or just make a splash.
If you want to do any of the above then you must focus on the audience that you care about and on the thing that you love. There will be little room for compromise. The truly successful ones will be able to mix art with business. But those are extremely rare (Michael Jackson comes to mind as the most recent well-known example).
Come to think of it, my two oldest daughters have done this sort of thing. They say, "Like father, like son." But, come to think of it, my daughters have both gone off to show business (without any help from daddy) and done some pretty cool stuff. Maybe they won't "make it" but at least they are living the life they want to live.
How many of us can say that they are still following their dream?
I'll write more on their stories (in a series tentatively entitled, "A Daddy Brags")... Seriously, you might find their stories incredulous. One found herself a recording contract with EMI with one of the most famous rock stars in Japan today. The other quit a high-paying Internet company job to take a low-paying job doing lighting for clubs... Now, she is being courted by one of the most famous dance units in the entire world to join their art and lighting team.
How did they do it? How did they do that completely without my help? That's what blows my mind.
I hope to write about them soon. I think their story can help young people and job searchers or just anyone with a dream.