Yes, I admit it, your very own Dr. Karen Ruskin, marriage and family therapist has been a long time listener of the Howard Stern show. On January 18th “The King Of All Media”, as many refer to him as, Howard Stern, shared his secret of success with Piers Morgan and all of us watching on night 2 of Morgan’s new CNN interview program. So you ask, what was Stern’s deep disclosure? What is Stern’s big secret to his success?
One might think if we can learn from someone that has become so successful in his industry what has helped him to be such a big hit, perhaps one can achieve high status in whatever one’s industry of choice is. Are you ready, buckle up for this, in summary, Stern shared that it is his obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) combined with his need to get attention, approval, and have his voice heard from his father. Yes, there it is! The driving force behind Stern’s motivation to succeed is a combination of what is considered a personality disorder, combined with what his father did wrong and how that affected Stern. On many of Stern’s old shows he would call his father during the program to try to get his father to say that he loves him. Imagine that, a grown man still wanting to hear those words. What do you think about that? Is that really it? Could it be? Is there more? Or, is that really the main push that helped Stern to help himself find celebrity? Is it really possible that what created such a drive in a man was his need for his father to be proud of him and his compulsive need to keep doing? So, I ask you the reader; is there something that you still long for that you are seeking and trying to fulfill in unhealthy ways or in healthy ways? Can what it is that you want be attended to, nurtured, fulfilled, healed?
If the combination of Stern’s OCD and wanting his father’s approval was the ongoing push, and that is the secret, that is not so secret to his success, take the time to consider what message that conveys in your opinion. Think about your own life. What drives you to achieve? What motivates you to do the things you do? How has your childhood experiences and relationship with your parents affected your mental health and life decisions? Can the effects of the experience one takes from one’s parent-child relationship be recognized as an adult and then can a person grow from this awareness?
Let’s take it a step further, what made people listed to what Stern had to say? In my opinion one large piece of the puzzle was Stern’s willingness to expose himself and help others to expose themselves that played a significant role in holding onto the listeners’ interest. The fact is, amidst all of his silliness, vulgarity, pushing the envelope, discussing topics that were new to radio, and his creativity, (all of which of course is what brought/kept listeners) there has always been great depth, analytical statements, and helpful life hints that women and men can learn from if they choose to listen closely. What are some of those you ask?
Let us take a moment to think back to past shows. One example is the time he shared his back ailments and how he would often lay on the floor at work because his back hurt him so much he could barely sit. He disclosed to his audience that it was due to his reaction to stress, which is what created such immense back pain. Long ago Stern had shared that Dr. John Sarno wrote a book that explained the connection between the mind and the body with a specific focus on one’s back pain. Stern asserted that Sarno’s message changed his life. How many people were helped by his willingness to expose his struggle and the resource that helped him? How about the countless mentions of the size of his private part? He would often ask women if size really matters. How many men do you think he helped that were feeling inadequate about their body when they heard a successful man asking women their opinion and so many women would say that size did not matter? His journey that he shared about his divorce and finding love again in his second marriage offers the opportunity to realize that where one is emotionally during one phase of life may be not where one is at a different phase. I remember way back when Stern thought he would never marry again, he took the audience through his journey on air. In addition, his acknowledged monogamy is a beautiful statement for positive choices one can make in our marriage. His acknowledgment that he goes for counseling to be a better father, a better person is yet another example of how he exposed himself and by doing so helped others. Quite frankly the list is endless. His interviews of others are typically excellent. What he gets people to share is not like any other show in that people do expose themselves emotionally, not just baring their physical body. The names of whom have shared more on his program than has come out anywhere else, is countless.
I do not have to agree with everything Stern has said nor everything he will say, in fact, there are parts to his show that I have found not humorous nor analytical and that I down right disagree with and feel are hurtful to people, so I turn off those segments. That is the power of the hand, to push a button to off. Also, a great example that there are many sides to all of us.
What can we take away from Stern’s interview with Morgan? Perhaps one can take away that the choices we make as parents absolutely impact one’s children. Not all children end up as successful adults from one’s emotional pain, some continue to carry the pain and are unable to find work success nor have a healthy loving adult relationship because of it. As a therapist I find this is an all too common scenario. Perhaps another bullet point we can take away is that no matter how successful a person is the person can still have insecurities. As Stern did acknowledge some of them even during his interview with Morgan, as always, he does expose himself. Perhaps we can take away that no matter how old we get, no matter how much time passes, nothing can fill the void of childhood pain, rather it is how we cope with it, understand it, and learn about ourselves from it.
Assignment: think about your own short comings, your weaknesses, and your insecurities. Think about if there is a way you can use them to your advantage, to be a strength. Think about how you treat yourself, your spouse, your children. Consider what you want to improve upon, grow and enhance. Make the choice today to commit to your personal, relational, and professional growth as a lifestyle and feel proud of the healthy choices that you make. I invite you to share in the comments section down below how you have used what one may consider a short coming or weakness to your advantage.
Bravo Stern, for once again exposing yourself and providing an opportunity for analysis and growth for those that were watching!