Take two singers. One is a talented all-around musician, with a full grasp of her craft, pleasantly attractive, but not beauty pageant class. The other is beauty pageant class, with a good natural singing voice, and one knock-out classical song, and not much else. Do you want to guess which one wins singing contests that involve an audition of only one song? There are also certain singers who win or place highly in competitions, but never have a career because the only thing they’re really good at is winning competitions, just like those pleasing personalities who are so good at interviews and much less competent at doing the job.
Take the CEOs of large companies. There are the competent-looking tall ones with a commanding presence… and then there are the others – except a number of studies over the years have shown that while there is a far higher percentage of tall and competent-looking CEOs at larger companies (who get paid significantly more, on average), there’s absolutely no correlation between appearance and their performance as CEOs.
It’s a bit different with authors, but there are more than a few who publish one book and nothing more. Possibly the most famous authors who only wrote a single book are Harper Lee [To Kill a Mockingbird] and Margaret Mitchell [Gone with the Wind]. The music industry is filled with singers and musicians who had only one hit song in their entire career. It’s no different in politics, and it would be hard to count the members of Congress who served exactly one term… and who are now long forgotten.
The problem with all too many of these one-hit wonders and one-trick ponies is that, all too often, their one trick overshadows others who are actually far better at whatever field it may be. The least glamorous CEOs are generally far better than the ones who merely look good, and a great many executives who don’t have the height and “look” likely never get the chance because their talents are deeper but less obvious. There are significant numbers of authors who have produced large numbers of good, and sometimes great, books who’ve never made the big best-seller lists, but whose total sales have been respectable if not substantial over a long period. And there are authors who didn’t have the “flash” or trick to impress agents or publishers who self-published and later made the best-seller lists. In this, Richard Paul Evans comes to mind.
There are good character actors who are far better at their craft than many big name stars, and whose careers have lasted far longer, and, unhappily, there are younger actors with the same kinds of talent and determination who will never get the chance because they’re solid, dependable… and don’t have a flashy trick… or gimmick, as the old song says.