Lessons From Whitney Houston

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Mourning Whitney Houston? Here's the reality check about what did and didn’t make her fabulous.

During these days when we as a global community mourn the loss of one of our greatest hits, it’s important for us to take a moment to realize what did and didn’t make Whitney Houston fabulous. Sure, she was discovered by Clive Davis at a tender young age and thrust into a world that put her front and center in every way – the good with the bad. We've Lost A Legend: Remembering Whitney Houston

Her platinum pipes belted out songs we’ll always remember and her opportunities were endless. So were her trials and tribulations with drugs, a relationship gone bad, and multiple attempts to keep it real. In the wake of her sudden death and our grief, what choice do we have but to idolize her and her music that we’ll miss so much? We could look at the lessons she shared through her courage and strength and those she revealed through her vulnerability and weaknesses. Let’s put this all into perspective:

The Fabulous

  •  Her Music.  When you heard the breaking news about Whitney Houston’s death, what song popped to the top of your head? “I Will Always Love You?” or “I Want to Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)?” This six-time Grammy winner had the ability to write the songs that made us get up and dance and those that touched our hearts and souls.
  • Her Movies. Remember her leading lady role in “The Bodyguard,” and how many wondered about her potential crossover into film? She sung her way into many people’s memories through her appearance on the silver screen.

The Not So Fabulous

  • Her Bouts with Drugs. It was no secret that Whitney Houston turned to drugs when life got tough. Instead of other choices, she chose drugs. Instead of finding help, she helped herself into a life of dread and disaster that affected her, those around her, her marriage, her family, and all those whose lives she touched. What does that say to others that idolized her? That drugs are the answer when life gets tough? I don’t know about you but that’s not so inspiring or fabulous.
  • Her Marriage. Rocky from the start and rough on the inside and out, Whitney Houston appeared to have no courage or strength when it came to accepting the abuse that came with the man she chose to share her life with. She had no dealbreakers and didn’t say it was not okay to abuse her or treat her like trash. When she finally left, many applauded her new choice to leave and at the same time wondered what took her so long. How does this type of marriage set up those who admired her for success? Recalling Whitney Houston's Bruised Romantic Past
  • Her Lack of Self-Esteem. When women point to those they idolize, wouldn’t it be great if they said, “I want to be like her!” and the woman they pointed to had core values she lived by, boundaries she clearly set, and strength she showed by being willing to be vulnerable instead of putting on a happy face when she’s crying and dying inside? It takes a lot to take off the blinders in your life and step up. I’m not saying that it’s easy but I am saying that it’s possible—and it’s fabulous. It shows your heart and soul at its deepest levels and affects a whole world of people who want so desperately to step up in their own lives.

Why didn’t she feel that she was worth much more sooner and that abusing her was not okay? You may think I’m being harsh and not so compassionate. In the wake of your own life, how often do you say it’s okay for you to live in a self-made prison as a result of the choices you make, personally or professionally? When will we as a society no longer accept abuse as a way of life and foster the courage in others to stand up for who they are and that they are valuable?

Somehow, imprisoning oneself in a marriage that’s abusive and riddled with experiences you know don’t serve you or the Greater Good doesn’t seem so fabulous to me. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Whitney Houston’s music and danced to it with joy and a smile since she first hit the big time on my transistor radio. I enjoyed watching her in “The Bodyguard,” and other roles she took on.

But when it came down to setting the stage for being fabulous where it really counted, perhaps Whitney didn’t understand that she had the right to remain fabulous through it all—right up until the very end. The question remains for you as you mourn her passing: do you? When you find yourself drowning in a self-made prison and suffocating your life as a result, do you understand that you have the right to remain fabulous, stand up and take action to change your situation and change your life? Wisdom from Whitney: Put Yourself First

Let Whitney’s passing inspire you to step up. It’s never too late to remain fabulous and your time is now.