Hollywood has really hit it big with reality TV shows – especially some of the more recent reality shows that deal with the idea that winning a brief 2-month competition can launch your career into the stratosphere. In “The Apprentice,” contestents are given a chance to earn a job with a hefty salary working directly for the billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump. A similar show, which is even more outrageous, is “The Rebel Billionaire” in which contesents compete for the chance to be hired as president of the Virgin corporation – a multi billion dollar holding company which owns an airline, wireless phone service and other diversified interests. These shows appeal directly to an idea that all you have to be is lucky to make it big. They also make it appear that it’s relatively easy to become successful in the business world.
In the entertainment arena, reality shows like MTV’s “Cribs” show the extravagent lifestyles of 20-something singers, rap stars and athletes who seemingly become overnight successes just from sheer luck. American culture seems to glorify the idea that you can become super successful without having to work hard. While this is all highly entertaining, the downside to it is it can give people the mistaken impression that if you’re good looking, photogenic, know the right people, or just lucky, you can be successful. It also leads to people subconsciously comparing themselves with these people on TV, which in most cases is not really a fair comparison. Your life is reality, whereas what’s shown in reality TV shows is largely manufacturered and staged by Hollywood. Yes, the people are real, but the situations are created by TV producers for dramatic effect.
What they don’t show on reality TV shows are the years of toil and hard work people like Donald Trump or Richard Branson invested to get to where they are. They don’t show it on TV, but Trump still gets up at 5 in the morning and gets only about 4 hours of sleep each day. You’ll probably never see a reality TV show where someone works hard for years — coming in to the office early and leaving late — perhaps going for long periods without getting recognition from their peers. Remember, even in Trump’s case, he was written off in the early 90s and considered a business failure when his bankers abruptly stopped backing his business ventures. Most successful people are somehow able to keep performing at a high level – putting in a lot of hours and making smart decisions – even when they’re not in the limelight.
There’s a temptation in our society to leave things to chance or to look for an easy way out. But if you really want to be successful in the United States, you’ve got to realize that it’s not about chance and make a decision to take control of your future. The real reality is that career success usually isn’t glamarous and it would never be shown on a TV show. It’s about putting in that extra effort and pushing yourself to higher levels of achievement.