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How to Gain the Right to Succeed


This week, my blogs have centered around the fact that so many of us appear to be waiting for someone to give us permission to excel and succeed. Fortuitously, I ran into a Leprechaun who deputized me, as he was social distancing. He authorized me to grant five wishes, one for each day of the week. On Monday, I gave permission for us to be anyone we wanted to be. On Tuesday, I gave us all permission to follow our bliss, and do anything we wanted to do. Wednesday gave us permission to dispel forever the fears surrounding the Impostor Syndrome, and yesterday I gave us all permission to fail, and to fail spectacularly. So what could possibly be left to wish for? I mean, if no one wants the wish, I've got some lottery numbers that could use a little help.

Oh yes, of course, we still need to sew this whole process up. We need permission to succeed. How odd it is that we live in a democratic society, are capitalists at our core, and yet we somehow think that it is wrong to desire success. I'm not talking about walking over others to claw our way to the top. Or to deceive or misrepresent ourselves. No one wants to cheat their way up the ladder. But for goodness sake, why go to all this trouble if you don't want to succeed, and I mean make it big?

Success of course will look different to each of us. But I'm afraid that I often temper my ambition with some learned humility that suggests that I should know my place in this world, and work really hard to be average. I'm 60 this year, and I cashed in the stability of a 30 year career to open a fine art and photography business during a global pandemic that's brought the world economy to its knees. To hell with average, I want to go out with a bang.

In previous blog posts, I've talked about success, and how many of us wouldn't recognize success if we obtained it. Other than the private jets. I believe that's not because we lack imagination, but rather that the best part of succeeding is the actual journey. Again, perhaps other than the private jets. I think there is a very marked difference in wanting to "be" a success, and wanting to succeed. The former is a completed state, it's static, it's done. The latter is a process, a raucous jumble of ideas, failures, embarrassments, misses, hits, joys, celebrations, and more ideas. It's waking up every day to a new set of challenges, of problems to solve, of things to learn. It's the satisfaction of knowing that I can recognize pitfalls because of mistakes I've made, and that I can make decisions based on greater knowledge than I had a year ago. It's the pride of building something, creating something. And it's the fear of losing it all, but confident in my ability to shake off failures and start rebuilding when things fall apart.

I also think that I can't possibly recognize success unless I'm working to a plan, with clear goals and measurable outcomes. I don't believe I can be a success unless I am part of a larger community that helps and supports me, and whom I help and support in return. As a creative, I am convinced that people create in order to share. Artists need to have their work seen, writers need to be read, and performers need an audience.

So study your heroes. Write and review your goals. Jump head first into the joyous chaos of your particular journey. Win and fail often, but never rest. Build on your successes, and learn from your mistakes. Then get right back out there and to it all again. Measure your progress and share with your community. Create magnificently, then show your work, proudly and unapologetically. Take constructive criticism and hone and adjust your path as you go. And when you've done all of that, then go buy the jet.

So as we wrap up another week, close your eyes... no wait, that won't work if you're reading. Squint your eyes a bit, and feel the magic wand one more time. Feel the tingle down your spine as you are given the ultimate permission, now, and for the rest of your days, to succeed in everything you undertake.

Have a great weekend.


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