Posted by: Admin | August 3, 2012

The Nature of Success

Yep, I’m still on a ramble! After writing about the importance of failure, I’ve been meditating on the nature of success. It was regular project50 commentator, Oldfool who set me off on this train of thought. Below is the unedited comment he posted on my last post:

In my short life (73+ years) I have compiled several lists of failures. Several because of the different categories, e.g. love, business, etc. Seems the score is about even up except that overall I am satisfied so perhaps I did better than I thought. I am happy to say that I have learned from my failures and not repeated them. I have tried the same endeavors over again using different inputs. I have never feared failure but neither does a cat which is why you occasionally see a flat dead cat in the road. When I say I cannot do something it is based on having a failure not on the lack of trying. My feelings about writing is that I am a success. Not because I’m good because I know ‘good’ and I ain’t it. It is because it makes me happier and sometimes gives me a real sense of satisfaction. (If you’d like to read more of Oldfool’s writing, take a look at his wonderful and eclectic blog, Old Fool’s Journal.)

I agree – failure is only useful if one learns from it! But what, then, is success? Oldfool says he feels he is a success at writing because it makes him happier. I like that. No mention of it making him richer (financially) or that it “makes a difference”. Just that it makes him happy.

I believe that success is something we all have to define for ourselves. What does it mean to you? Climbing the career ladder? Or being able to work part time so that you can pick your grandchild up from school? One is not more valid than the other, both are forms of success.

What signifies success to you? Money in the bank? (or even in your pocket!) A stable relationship? The ability to get up in the morning and face the day with optimism?

Does success always mean catching more fish than the next guy?

Here’s what it means to me, for better or worse. While it would be nice to have the earning power to help my children more, in reality success, for me, is to be able to earn enough money at what I do to be able to continue doing it. To have the ability to be absorbed in my endeavours so that my attention is fully on creating, not paying the bills. Success involves maintaining a state of emotional equilibrium so that I can operate within parameters that are comfortable for me. To be able to spend time with my family, time with my husband, time with my friends, and time alone without feeling I’m being pulled every which way. In essence, I’m with Oldfool on this one. Success isn’t about worldly renown, it’s about doing the things that make me happy.

On the other hand, I would welcome the kind of success that sees book sales rocket and more and more quality bookings in my diary because, professionally, that is what success is all about. Isn’t it? Validation of one’s efforts. Proof that people want and enjoy one’s output. And that has to include some monetary reward.

In conclusion, then, I’m pretty conflicted about what success means to me. I guess it’s a patchwork quilt of things both big and small that bring me satisfaction. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Cue random picture – Park Guell, Barcelona

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