While tracing the perimeter of the mall I failed to filter out an American Idol segment repeating ad naseum. The hosts were shouting to an ecstatic crowd about the prospect of becoming instantly famous. One young woman states, "this is the most important day of my life". A mother screams about the perceived success of her child, "my baby made it!" Did they really?
Hugely successful people are famous. As a society we recognize their names and accomplishments across many communities. But somewhere in our Hollywood history we made the cultural mistake of believing fame IS success. I don't think I'll have much success convincing masses of Americans that correlation doesn't imply causation. The few who recognize the statement are likely just reciting it from memory, without thinking through what the words mean.
You don't wake up one morning with deep skill. Mastering a profession takes years of dedication and hard work. Skill level changes sporadically over a lifetime of effort, fluctuating both forwards, backwards and sideways but always twirling towards victory (vote Kodos). Pro chops come from uncountable risks and failures, numerous successes and understanding the hairline boundary which divides the two. Folks with chops exhibit a compulsive nature that ties into their role as master craftsman. You can no longer separate the skill from their identity, they are one.
Which should you covet more, fame or chops?
I'll give you a hint. One often begets the other, and one is irrelevant to having a positive and lasting impact on the world around you. It's not up to me to dictate which is more important, the decision is yours alone.