My most vivid Michael Jackson memory was his 1993 Oprah Winfrey interview. I remember watching the show and thinking two things:
1. This is the most talented person I've ever seen.
2. This person has the lowest self-esteem of anyone I've ever seen.
Here was this supremely gifted, awesomely talented individual. Yet even before I had heard of the term "head trash", I couldn't help thinking that he was suffering from inner demons that few of us could comprehend.
In my seminars, I've often compared the success of Tiger Woods with Michael Jackson. Whereas Tiger's parents encouraged and supported their young prodigy, Michael's father (we don't hear much about his mother) literally beat his sons to get them to rehearse "the right way".
It's no secret that this kind of physical and emotional abuse cost Michael any chance at a normal life. Now, after his death, Brian Oxman, identified as a Jackson family spokesman, has said that he voiced concerns that Michael was abusing prescription drugs and that the people surrounding Michael were "enabling" his self-abusive behavior.
I can't help but compare the life and death of Michael Jackson to that of Elvis Presley. Both were globally famous and galactically talented. Both suffered abuse from their handlers. Drugs played a part in both of their deaths. And both had defective Systems of Support that led to their early demise.
An individual's System of Support consists of the People, Activities, and Environment in which they live. When your People System consists of hangers-on and enablers, your Activities put you millions of dollars in debt, and your Environment is a self-created prison called Neverland, it doesn't matter how rich or famous you are. Your house isn't built on sand; it's built on quicksand.
Why is it that the most gifted people are often the most fragile, while those with little or no talent think they're God's gift? While I can't fully explain this phenomenon, it has shown up in the entertainment world time after time - from Chris Farley to River Phoenix to Elvis, and now Michael Jackson.
My only hope is that the parents and handlers of young, talented people learn a lesson from Michael Jackson's sudden death: that in life, just as in physics, for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. When you push your young prodigy, be ready for the push-back. And that push-back may very well cost them their life.
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Noah St. John, Ph.D. is the author of The Secret Code of Success: 7 Hidden Steps to More Wealth and Happiness (HarperCollins) and inventor of Afformations.
He helps people get rid of the head trash that's holding them back and stop living with one foot on the brake. Free book excerpt at SuccessClinic.com