Tuesday, December 31, 2013

0 Reinvent Yourself... Like Sinatra Did

By: Marvin DeBose

"Reinventing yourself" is a concept which I first became familiar with as an 18-year old, reading Robert Greene's classic book, 48 Laws of Power.

Greene, who wrote a chapter called "Recreate Yourself" discussing the importance of being able to change, grow and craft your image in an ever-changing environment. At first, I couldn't fully grasp the concept.

I thought, "Why should you have to recreate yourself are if you're already confident in yourself and your abilities?"

But as I grew older and became more aware of the constant change going on around me, it made more sense. Reinventing yourself doesn't mean being inauthentic or changing what makes oneself unique. It's more of a matter of growing, improving, adapting and gaining new skills in order to stay fresh in an ever-changing world.

Photo courtesy of radiospirits.info 
Reinvention is a topic of which, particularly, many entertainers and artists have become familiar. As time goes on in the changing, unstable world of entertainment, where trends, styles, and even attitudes come and go, stars must be able to grow, develop and keep up with the times. Artists who do the same thing over and over and don't transform or improve their craft often fade into oblivion. An entertainer who best demonstrated the power of reinvention was none other than Frank Sinatra.

In the mid-1940s, Sinatra was at what many people perceived to be as the pinnacle of his career. He'd performed in front of thousands of screaming, fainting, mostly teenage female fans all over the country. He'd been in numerous films which were quite successful. His concerts were so popular that they were known to nearly cause riots. He was a predecessor of what was to come in American popular music.

Yet, as the 1940s came to a close and the 50s arrived, things began to change in Sinatra's career. He starred in a string of unsuccessful films and his appeal as a heartthrob to teen audiences was starting to wane. By 1950, the boyish, youthful appeal which Sinatra once used to his advantage seemed to be gone.

Sinatra, who was by now in his mid-30s, no longer represented youth, he was balding, he was married and his years of smoking and drinking slowly took a toll on his youthful appearance. He had also suffered a hemorrhaging of his vocal cords, altering the one thing which made him a star in the first place; his voice.

Soon, he was dropped from his record label, and amid struggles in his personal life, he fell into a deep depression. Journalists began to write him off as a "has-been" as new, younger singers began to take some of his shine.

Yet, an opportunity sprang up. A WWII-based film called From Here to Eternity was seeking someone to fill the role of a rebellious, heavy drinking, Italian-American serviceman; a role which fit Sinatra to a T. However, this serious, more dramatic role was drastic change from many of the more musical, romantic, typecast roles Sinatra was used to in the '40s. Yet, he realized that this role would be a chance to reinvent his career and his image.

Sinatra eventually got the role and ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance, and that twist of fate opened the door for a changed, new and improved Frank Sinatra.

This unexpected dramatic performance caused many to be take him seriously as an actor, and he regained some credibility in the entertainment world. He also earned a record deal with Capitol Records and slightly changed his sound, largely due to his work with composer, Nelson Riddle.

Out went the youthful singer who performed in front of screaming teens, and in came the older, more seasoned star who performed for sophisticated crowds in venues like Las Vegas and acting in major films.
Photo Courtesy of nbcnews.com

Sinatra would go on to have a legendary career in both music and film and make his mark on the entertainment industry.

But this is not just a story about Frank Sinatra. As we approach the year 2014, this is about YOU.

Since the world is always growing and changing, there is a constant need for us to adapt to these changes and expand our skills.

For example, in the world of academia, many universities have to reinvent themselves to adapt to a new, more diverse, technological generation of students.

In journalism, writers are reinventing themselves to keep up with the evolving field by gaining skills in audio and video production, social media, and photography.

Whether it is in our personal or professional lives, change is something that is constant, and it often shows us that we all face challenges and it reveals to us our deficiencies.

The question is, in what ways will you work to reinvent yourself? What skills will you gain, what new challenges will you take on, how will you adapt to change?

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

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