Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Importance of Defining Success

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You don’t start something new, you don’t take excess amounts of risk, with the idea that someday it will fail.

The reason you do your work, the reason you take on resistance, is to succeed.

What is the point of doing so much, taking on potential ridicule, quitting a stable job, risking your reputation, without success?

Part of our work is defining what success means, and most of us define it poorly.

When we dream and begin our work, we picture a form of success that looks like acclaim and recognition.

  • Reaching the pinnacle of our chosen field.
  • Attaining best seller status.
  • Becoming wealthy through an IPO.
  • Winning a grammy.
  • Having 10,000 members at our church.
  • Running fast enough for a gold medal.

Perhaps this is one potential definition, but if you choose this one for yourself, you are doomed to fail.

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl warns against the idea of pursuing success.

Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.

A better definition of success? Dedication to your work. Surrender to another person through love. Surrender to a cause that is greater than yourself.

photo by Mike P (Creative Commons)

Success is found when you do a work you love. When you show up every day to do that very work, overcoming the resistance inside of you.

It is found in creating, in making something new. Something interesting.

It is having a vision for something great and then taking daily small steps in that direction.

It is believing the impossible.

It is learning from mistakes and becoming better at your craft for having “failed.”

If acclaim follows, then so be it, but don’t ever let it interfere with your true success.

Tell everyone about your success in the comments.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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  • Carey Rowland

    Jeremy, you have stated my philosophy , and my strategy, precisely. This is encouraging–that I’m not the only one who views creative work and enterprise in this way. Thanks.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      I think its really important. I personally struggle not defining it the other way. When I have I struggle and the creative pursuit struggles. Thanks for sharing, Carey.

  • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

    Success to me means helping someone in some way. Often that someone is me, but sometimes I have been able to help others as well.  I enjoyed the post Jeremy!  

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      That’s a great definition, Jim.

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