Definition of Success: A Different Vision

As always, enjoy the PodCast or the transcribed version below.

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I heard a motivational speaker on someone’s news feed this morning. They were talking about how – if you want to have success –  you have to leap.  You have to get rid of all this fear and just leap.

I was so frustrated.  I was so annoyed by it.  I immediately started writing.  Why is this bothering me so much?  Clearly understand what he’s trying to say and it’s not that I completely disagree —  I just have a different vision.

I also think it’s this weird concept that the only way you can find your true North or you can find “success” as he put it – is by somehow risking and possibly having loss.  To me, there’s something so negative about that.

I think it also comes from a place of experience for me. More times than not in my life I have leaped and many times I have landed on my feet and felt success, but many times I have to say I have leaped, and I have fallen (and I have fallen hard) and gotten hurt.  So, I’m not sure that’s the answer to success.

It’s probably good to define what success means though. So, clearly I think what he’s talking about is financial success.  I’m not talking about financial success – however, I think financial success and any kind of abundance in our life is all kind of the same thing.

I don’t put that much value in material goods but we do have basic needs. We also need to take care of our families and we also like to have the things we like to have — we all have a standard of life we wish to have.  So I’m not against financial success.  But I think when you pursue financial success as your only goal, you’re cheating yourself.

I say this because my experience working with so many ultra wealthy people and knowing so many (I guess) ultra poor people — the one thing I know for sure is that money does not make you happy.  And I know that’s a cliché, but that’s a true one.

If anything, I think wealthier people seem to be more miserable – because they had this idea that money would be able to solve all their woes.  But I know that being poor is also not any better.  So that’s all about financial and material-esque ideas.

I actually think the real purpose of success in life:  is learning how to walk through any situation you’re in.  I don’t think the point of life is to have as much material wealth as possible or to have as much stuff as possible – I actually believe that you can have all those things but what’s more important, is learning how to get through certain parts of our life and come out on the other side.

The first part of this is to think of life as a path – a journey. Again another visual cliché, but this is how I have always envisioned my life.  Walking along this pathway you’re going to encounter good times and bad times. And you’re going to encounter things that work and things that don’t work – and how you choose to go through those events in “our lives” is the ultimate meaning of success for me.

So yeah, I’m feeling a little down today but the way in which I choose to walk through it is: Do I dig the hole deeper? Or do I find a way to climb out of it and walk on through to the other side?  I always choose to climb out of it as quickly as possible.  And the more that you learn to deal with difficult things in your life in this manner the easier it is to get through things.

I also think we don’t put enough value in happy moments, in good times.  I think a lot of us have an expectation that life is always supposed to be good and in bliss — but that’s not true, and that’s the confusion with material wealth.  We think that people are always happy because they have everything they’ve ever wanted.  But actually, life isn’t about being continuously joyful and continuously happy.  If it was, you’d be in a mental institution – because no one can be continuously happy.  And the only way to really understand true happiness and true joy is to understand sadness and bad times.

So life to me is kind of this equilibrium where we experience all of these things. And the real true purpose is for us to learn how to walk on through each moment that comes to us and figure out how to get through it.

As time moves on and as I get older, and as I have more and more experience, I realize that even when bad times are happening to me, I find it easier to get through those than I have in the past.  With more time, comes some wisdom into how to deal with these things.

I’m also learning as I get older that I need to embrace the happy moments.  I need to really pay attention to those times when things are good.  And I think a lot of us kind of just expect life to always be good so we don’t really embrace happy times.  We’re kind-of like, “Oh yeah that was great…”  unless it’s something monumental — but even times that are content, even times that are just regular days that nothing happens, I’ve learned to really embrace and to really love and enjoy and find purpose in it.

So yeah, I don’t think that in order to have any amount of success you have to experience loss or be in a position of fear.  I think it is true that if you’re afraid to do something, that you may want to think about why you’re so afraid of it and figure out a way to walk on through.  But this idea of “leaping” and hoping you’ll fly and soar… it’s a possibility – and you could soar – that’s true.  But you could just as easily fail. How do you stand back up when you fall that hardHow do you get back up, dust yourself off and walk on through anyway?

That’s the trick.

And every time you learn that, you realize that things are not scary to try because you’ve already failed before because you’ve already been there before.  You know you can get yourself back up again and move on through.

Maybe there’s a few different concepts here that I’m talking about.  But I think it’s important to define what success means to you.  I think it’s also good to understand and visualize for yourself: what is your purpose in life?  And the third thing I’d like to leave you with is this idea:  how do you embrace the good times?  Do you take enough time to really enjoy when things are great?  And also, do you take enough time to embrace when things are just standard contentment. Just a regular day?  And if you don’t, then let’s start focusing on that!  I know that’s what helps me.

I know it helps me to focus my attention on the things that are good in my life and the things that I love to do like writing.  Today, I just did all this writing on this and now I’m sharing it with people and I already feel better even though this morning I woke up feeling a little bit blue or sad or whatever you want to call it.  I feel like I’ve gotten my energy back – and so again, how do we walk through those moments when we’re not feeling good – I think that’s the purpose of life.  I think that’s the true success that everybody seeks.  That’s the true wealth.  Everything else, is just icing!

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Have a sweet day and I’ll be back again soon.

Carmen

Epic Failure: Taking My Own Medicine

I sometimes find myself working as a consultant generally helping start-ups move forward.

This particular start-up company that called me in is a mixture of freelancers and employees.  They were working business black suitwith a pretty high profile client on a project that seemed to take forever. Unfortunately, they didn’t understand or take into account the financial ramifications of what it would actually cost them to produce their art.  So they ended up losing money.  In essence, the small promising start-up company ended-up paying to work.

To add to the loss of money they endured, the client whose project they worked on for months, decided not to use their work and went with a rival company instead.  That stung for sure.

When I was asked to help these creatives unravel their problem with finances I simply told them:  “The issue you’re having is you don’t fully understand your own value as an artist. You don’t get the big picture.”

The room went uncomfortably silent.  They seemed stunned.  How dare I? And what could I possibly mean?   The vibe I was getting felt like they were all secretly screaming – We’re designers and absolutely understood our own work, crazy lady.  Eeeh, I kept on…

“Look, art is a beautiful thing. Being creative is magnificent and all of us have to find it within ourselves to express who we really are – – and some of us do that by designing, some by writing, and others by being teachers, actors or whatever.  But being creatively brilliant isn’t enough.  It is, if what you’re going for is being creative in your bedroom or basement and only showing your stuff to your family and friends. But if you’re going to put your art out there and expect people to buy it, then you’re going to have to learn the other part of being a creative person – and that involves ALSO understanding the business end of the spectrum. That’s what I mean by not understanding fully your value as an artist.”

Lightbulbs seemed to be going off above some heads. So I continued on:

“Look, I saw your boards. I saw how meticulous it was that you scheduled time for each frame, for each character, for each part of the story. I saw the schedule you put in place for each person’s time on each individual thing. But what I didn’t see was that same dedication into billing for that time, or any time frame for revisions and costs to those adjustments.  I don’t see a budget anywhere that includes things like materials, overages and/or calendar changes.  Basically, a client offered you money and you took it without a thought to any of that. Creating art as a business isn’t just about the design. It’s about something bigger than that. The technical stuff. The money stuff. The marketing stuff. Business is the umbrella, but under that umbrella is a lot of other “stuff” to understand and master to make it work and to make it profitable. ”

They got it.

“Let’s talk about what someone earlier called an ‘epic failure’.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, mistakes are going to happen.  Not just in business, but in life.  It’s never an epic failure to make a mistake unless of course you make the mistake over and over and over again and never learn from it.  If you learn from the mistake, then it was a valuable lesson and one that should be embraced and then let go. Period.  Consider it a learning moment. That’s a good thing.  It’s an education.  And education is never free.  Change your perspective to a positive about this particular project. It feels better and helps you move on…”

Well the vibe in the room seemed lighter.  They got it.  Applause.  I felt good.

And then, just as quickly I realized I had to make a note to myself — so on my phone I quickly typed in a memo:  You know what would be really great Carm? If you actually practiced what you preached and took some of your own medicine!

Ahhhh….a perfect example of a “Carmen-ism” for sure!