I happen to be watching Dr. Phil today and he had on Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys.

Now normally, when they feature some celebrity, I tend to turn off the show, but something made me keep watching and as a result I had an epiphany of sorts.

Now I’ve never heard of Nick Carter, but of course I have heard of the Backstreet Boys. Who hasn’t?

And I have two rather odd little connections to them.

First connection was a magical moment between myself and my daughters way back, years ago, before they got all strict and stuff.

We were washing up in my mom’s kitchen, in the house I grew up in, in Dundas. And we started singing that Backstreet Boys song, “I want it that way…”

I didn’t know all the words, I know I messed up in the singing of it, but when they joined in on the chorus, oh it was special!

A bonding moment I’ll never forget.

I’ve got a smile on my face even as I type this.

And even though they’d never sing anything with me like that again (they don’t approve of music) the point wasn’t really the song–it was the harmony.

Pardon the pun.

The harmony between us and I’m sure my niece was in there too, all of us singing at the top of our lungs, “Aint nothin’ but a heartache, tell my why, aint nothin’ but a mistake, tell me why, I never want to hear you say…I want it that way.”

Honestly, the song doesn’t even make much sense. That’s not the point. It’s just a connection I have with the Backstreet Boys.

Then years later, my parents went on a cruise and I think it was around Christmas time and apparently the cruise line helicoptered the Backstreet Boys in to do a song for them. So my parents got a chance to see them live.

Of course everyone on the boat were going crazy. My parents weren’t.

They’re older and more sanguine about silliness like that.

No, I’m not a fan of the Backstreet Boys.

Don’t search out their music and don’t own any of their albums or tunes. But at the same time I’m not immune to their allure.

So Nick Carter comes on, and the show’s about second chances. Apparently he got into the drugs and stuff and now he’s clawing his way back, trying to make it up the charts.

He said something interesting when someone in the

Dr. Phil had him sing a song of course, and the funny thing was you could hardly hear him for all the screaming of all the ditzy ladies in the audience.

Well it seems to me if you like a singer, wouldn’t you shut up with the screaming so you can hear him sing?

And then it occurred to me, they’re not caring about his singing. They’re caring about him being part of the Backstreet boys and maybe each and every one of the screamers has some kind of ‘connection’ to him too.

Some moment in their lives where a Backstreet boy song played and just set the tone and is now forever intimately connected in their memories with the group–and with Nick Carter because he was part of that group.

The show was about second chances, and here was Nick having cleaned himself up from all the booze and drugs, wanting a second chance.

Okay, I thought. Let me see this.

Later on he answered some audience questions and one person asked what his best advice was to someone who was trying to break into the industry.

He said something like, “Enjoy every minute of it because it’s over all too quickly.”

And then that got me to thinking.

Why does it have to be over?

And yet it’s true. So many of these pop bands have such a short shelf life.

They’re hot until the next big thing comes along.

And that got me to thinking about that post I wrote about negotiation.

I also recalled hearing someone say that the hardest work they did was on the way to becoming famous. Once they were famous they could coast.

And bingo! That’s it.

That’s why these pop stars have such short shelf lifes.

You see it in those silly reality star search shows. American Idol, X Factor, America’s Got Talent.

You can’t just do the same schtick all the time, you have to up the ante.

I do believe that a pop star wanes after a while because the folks who paid good money for the tickets, even though they were probably screaming their hearts out during the concert, went home feeling ‘meh’ it wasn’t worth it.

And probably in the pop star’s defence, it would be very hard to have the kind of quiet contemplative quiet you need to create new art, while in such a glaring spotlight.

So what’s the answer?

Develop a discipline where you can drown out the accolades and the hecklers alike.

Focus on the story and only the story.

Not what it might do for you, but how you can tell this story in a way that is convincing and tangible.

After each book I write, each story I fall in love with, part of me thinks maybe this one will be ‘it’. It will be my ‘breakout’ book.

I still wonder about that, but the advantage is that I know so thoroughly that I have no control over that. And it’s on to the next project.

I can’t imagine coasting.

I can’t imagine not pushing to see how I can write better.

And hopefully, I’ll never have to make a ‘comeback’, like Nick Carter, or have to ask for a second chance.

Because honestly, asking for a second chance makes you look a little desperate.