Overnight success takes at least 7years. And one night
– Natalie Shell (a wholly unscientific observation; emphasis on the ‘at least’)
How do you measure success? Is it working for you?
I’ve been thinking a lot about success lately (maybe because I released my first book a few months ago and because I’m also transforming my work). And I’ll admit it. Sometimes I get frustrated and overwhelmed. I spent several weeks of the last months feeling the exact opposite of successful. I was in a funk.
It became clear that one of the main reasons for this is because I have been using a limited way to define success.
Namely, numbers. How many books I’ve sold. How much money I make. And how much time any of this ‘should’ take. These concepts do have value, but they don’t tell the full story. And when I get stuck there, they certainly don’t make me feel good. And hey, what’s the point of projects, especially creative ones, if there’s no joy in them!?
Over the last month I’ve been asking people how they measure success (“joy from doing” ranks high) and heard the same words “you have to play the long game” come out of the mouths of about 10 people. I have no idea how I’ve never heard the “long game” in this context before. However,
when I hear the same story repeated to me I listen. I kind of see it as the universe kindly trying to smack me in the face and say “hey, you’re missing something…follow this story”
There’s also part 2:
Hmmm. Creating. Success-ish/Failure. Time. Creating. Success-ish/Failure. Time. Creating/Failing. Time…Keep going…Repeat…Success.
So, I’m feeling better and trying to just keep creating and sharing and enjoying…following the directions that feel right and me. And, whenever I’m stuck, asking myself how would I feel about this direction in 5 years, or when I’m 80? (Watching movie’s like Advanced Style help, too)
I’m sharing this because funks happen to the best of us. But maybe next time you get stuck on worrying about whether you are being successful and comparing yourself to other successful people already ‘there’ you’ll also remember the long game and how much time and failure stories are missing from the success story* you’re comparing to. And let’s not even go into the cost for some types of success (burn out, depression, break downs…).
I hope you’ll check back in on your own long game story. The one you want to live and create.
What do you think?
(*Except for Matthew Weiner, the guy who created MadMen. He was totally honest and you can read his reassuring story about creativity success here!)
Ira Glass on Storytelling and Creative Pursuits