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