Success or Failure: It’s How We View Ourselves That is Important

We live in a world that loves to categorize things. Everything has to fit in its own little box on the shelf. There need to be clear definitions of things, lines drawn in bold that capture what that word / feeling / status mean. It makes life easy. When asked something, or when asking it of ourselves, we can check through the itinerary of life descriptions and easily pick the one that fits. But it has to fit perfectly. Anything that doesn’t is either wrong and needs to be fixed, or gets shut up and locked away somewhere.

Success and failure are two such topics that are thrown around in almost any conversation at any given moment. We are driven by the thoughts and promises of success and stalked by the threats and failure. Whether we want to admit it or not, it is true.

Yet who is it that defines what we do, who sits there and passes out the labels saying, “You there, yes you, the lady in the purple shirt. Congratulations, you succeeded” or “I’m sorry son, you didn’t make the cut.” Who gets to judge whether we have succeeded or failed other than ourselves.

I mean we are not just products on life’s production line, moving along different conveyor belts, waiting to be inspected and stamped as being Fit for Success or Rejected as being defective.

Take writing as an example.

What is the goal of a writer, is it world domination, is it unlimited wealth, or is it to write the story that is bursting inside their mind, begging to be released. Ok, the real answer is probably a little of all three, but, and as I have said many times before, writers need to write. So getting any words down on a page is a success right.

Skip forward a few months, you are sitting there, your completed manuscript in your hands. Your hopes are high, this is it, this is your dream realized. You have succeeded.

Skip ahead once more…

You’re sitting on the same bed, in the same house, your manuscript is on the desk before you, and in your hands you clutch a litany of rejection letters and emails from agents across the globe. From large agencies to boutique’s and even from that bald, tattooed man you met in the bar who said he knew a guy.

Does this mean you have failed? Of course not. You have still succeeded. You have written a book, you have put it out there for the world to see. Sure, you may have been rejected, you may have read that “This is a very subjective business” line more times than you have eaten hot dinners, but you have learned. You have not failed, you have grown.

You go back to your manuscript, you make the changes that have been suggested, or at least the ones you feel are needed to make it even stronger. Sure, you then have to start the process all over again, but that is precisely what it is. A process, a series of stages that link together towards a single goal. Success is always the goal, and is always attainable because failure only exists if you give up.

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” Vincent T. Lombardi

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what others think of you. Whether you are a writer, a business man, a mother or a father. Whether you are popular or alone. People can label you in whatever way they want to, because all that matters is the way we view ourselves.

Out lives are not made up of a string of failures that shape us into the people we are today. It is rather a string of success, and with each one comes an opportunity for growth. Because success breeds success, and the more we believe in ourselves, then the more our successes will be apparent to those around us.

“Success doesn’t come to you, you go to it.” Marva Collins

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7 thoughts on “Success or Failure: It’s How We View Ourselves That is Important

  1. I totally agree. Once again you have written a very poignant and extremely relevant post, Alex. Well done, you have given us all a huge boost and that pat on the back that we all deserve for our hard work. Keep it up, and see you on the bestseller list!

    1. Thank you Catherine. If but a few people can read my posts and find some comfort or appeal in them then I have far exceeded my expectations.

      The bestseller list would indeed be a lovelly place to meet. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Thanks Alex – this post was very timely. Having just finished my -cough- masterpiece -cough- I’ve swung from elation to depression in the time it took for me to google word counts and discover that my baby is almost twice as long as anything ever likely to be accepted as a debut novel 😦 So I very much needed this boost.

    From a purely philosophical point of view I’m also elated that someone else considers success, true success, to be a personal, subjective thing. Yes, positive feed-back from the external world is important – and does make you feel good – but the negative is important too because it pushes you out of your comfort zone, makes you try harder and, as you said, it makes you grow.

    So thanks again, I’m taking my word count as a goal rather than a failure! Onwards and upwards 😀

    1. I am glad I could help. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I never looked at word counts, or at least not at the ‘recommended’ counts. Every story a writer works on needs to be told, and you cannot place a cap on a story. Go ahead and tell it how you know it needs to be told. It is your story and nobody can tell you otherwise.

  3. My heart tells me you are right Alex but my ego is telling me that I want to see this thing in /print/ as well. So now I’m at loggerheads with the reality of a system in which publishers won’t touch a debut novel over a certain word count because they like to minimize the cost vs risk factor… and a total unknown is a huge risk.

    I do understand the logic. After all, the total word count equates to the total number of pages and the more pages there are the more the printing costs so on that basis why spend more than you have to on what amounts to a gamble? Nonetheless, letting go of the fantasy that publishers choose novels on the basis of merit instead of cold, hard currency is painful.

    I’m not arrogant enough to think my story is the best thing every written but I guess like all writers I want to believe that it is at least good enough to let the reading public decide on a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Not to be given that chance because of something as arbitrary as a word count is disillusioning to say the least.

    Having said all those negative thing though, I do still believe in the tooth fairy so I’m not giving up!

  4. Its Like you Know my weakness. Whenever I place myself in your words, I feel that I havent put in my best to at least write before I consider publishing a book. Thank you a million times. This is like my motivating piece that spells “You are not alone in the Writing World who had this kind of problem”! Thanks again

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