Having managed artists, including my ex, for the better part of 30 years, I know a little something about narcissism. I've read about the condition but found this video particularly interesting and educational. As I watched, I recognized a lot of the traits not only in the men (only men) that I've worked with, but also some in myself (how narcissistic). My friends might say I have an outsized ego, supreme self-confidence, and a healthy degree of narcissism. And they would be right. However, I temper all of that with true humility that allows me to recognize the beauty and brilliance of others, which separates me from the textbook narcissist.
The question I have to ask myself is not to what degree am I a narcissist, rather why I feel so compelled to work with them. After he met an old friend of mine whom I believe suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a new friend said "Wow, you are so patient." When I asked why he said "Because you can just sit there an listen to that guy talk about himself on and on." I looked at him and said "I've worked with artists for decades, of course I'm used to narcissists."
But his question stuck with me. My dear friend Elizabeth told me years ago that she really wanted me to stop working with narcissists. And for years my friends have been urging me to author a book about my life but I couldn't bring myself to write about how cool my life is. Firstly, there are countless people with far cooler lives than me and secondly, it seemed like an exercise in narcissism. Finally, at 50, I chose to pursue public speaking seriously because I understood it was a way to use my experiences to teach people. My father, god rest his soul, was a math professor, my mother a librarian, and my brother an English professor. I was definitely supposed to become a professor as well. And now I find that life has come full circle. Such is the beauty of the universe.
In stepping into the spotlight where the focus is on me rather than brilliant but utterly self-involved men, I am answering Elizabeth's wish. I will write a book and continue to keep speaking to as many ears as will listen. And I will remain friends with but try to stay away from the narcissists who have come to define most of my career.