Superstars: How to turn a star into a superstar


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Dec 1, 2003
Quincy, MA
This topic could really go on any number of places on SoSH. How do you grow a superstar capable individual into an actual successful superstar? Could be in business, in sports, anywhere really. Clearly this thread is inspired by Kyrie - who by all accounts is a top X basketball player in the NBA. Whether he is top 5 or 10, I don't think it matters except to acknowledge he is one of those guys. My premise is that his approach to being a superstar failed to get the most of his own talent or the talent of those around him this year in the playoffs. (I think this is a fair premise as being cast as the "man", he would have gotten a huge proportion of the credit if the team were successful, so by extension he carries a large burden of the team not being more than the sum of their parts.)

I don't know how one grows into the successful superstar. In a couple of different areas of my life I've considered myself very talented at what I've been involved in - but they were solo endeavors. (I also wouldn't have characterized myself as a superstar, so that's what led to this post.) I didn't need to rely on a team to be personally successful. Kyrie for example has been seemingly successful in every professional way except for in his latest role of "superstar". How does he evolve from the extraordinary star individual contributor to the superstar that makes everyone around him better and the team successful as a whole? (I accept that in a competitive/sports domain one could fail at the ultimate goal even in the face of a maximum/perfect performance.)

I look at the characteristics of someone like Larry Bird. He could have scored X points every night and considered that a yardstick of success. But he didn't, he seemingly was content with a team win. He left points and stats on the table when games were considered won. In some games, he seemed content to let others score, and he just passed and set others up as his priority. Other games he seemed to just focus on defense and rebounding. His points came, but as a by-product of his other efforts. He put the physical work in to be successful as an individual (running, put up countless practice shots, etc.). He seemed to be a chameleon on the court - whatever the team needed from him that night he did. Is that what made him great? To be able to do whatever the team needed in that moment?

I've seen social chameleons before. Watching someone with different circles of friends. In one circle they are the funny person, always something amusing to add. In another they play facilitator making sure that everyone is involved. In another group they are the idea person. In yet a different group of friends they are quieter just filling in blank spots in the conversation. They morph into whatever that group seems to need. Does a superstar need to be like this? Is that all there is to being a superstar - being able to be a chameleon sensing the moment (and delivering of course)? Is that also being a effective leader?

So serious questions - what characteristics make an effective superstar? What makes them successful, and how do we grow them? Or is it innate? Articles or book suggestions? Maybe I'm already assigning chameleon characteristics to Bird that aren't the primary ones of his superstar core. What is your take here?