Success & failure


Two very loaded words, I know. And they’re tossed around so much that we don’t even pay them that much attention anymore. We just assume that they’re Important.

The thing is though – what do they mean? What is success? What is failure?

They’re tricky questions to answer. Is success making hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions? Or billions? Is it being pretty famous or mega famous?

Is failure bankruptcy and anonymity or do you fail in front of millions?

I think we’ve all got our own cherished fantasies about success and personal nightmares about failure, but my next question is – are either of them actually important?

Really. Think about it.

We call people successes, we say they’re successful, but what do we mean by that?

My issue with the word success is that it implies that your life has some kind of end result – like you achieve x, y and z and ta da! You’re a success! It doesn’t take into account that life is a journey and that there are ups and downs. Personally, I think there’s only one end point, and that’s when we go to the big studio in the sky. Everything in between is a work in progress.

And what do we mean when we say someone failed? Is failure just the non-realization of a stated goal? Is failure just a different set of cards than the hand you’d have liked?

Success and failure are all relative.

I’m actually starting to think that neither of them are any of my business.

The one common thread in both of them is that they’re highly dependent on what other people think of you. Do you look like a success to others? Can we measure it, quantify it? How many billions of dollars do you have that proves you’re a success?

What if neither of them mattered? What if success and failure were completely unimportant?

This is why goals bother me – because if I don’t achieve them, I’ve failed somehow. I don’t care about goals. I care about vision, and intention.

What do I really want? To create art, to share that art and to share my story with others in the hopes of inspiring them to follow what they love.

Well how in the hell do I quantify that? I mean, I painted today, I have my art on my website, I hung out on Twitter, and I’ve shared some of my thoughts with you – all things that are part of my vision. But I don’t think I could say that it’s been a success or a failure until I’m dead to be honest. Who knows what might happen tomorrow? Next week? Ten years from now?

How can I definitively say I’m a success or a failure when I never know what might happen next?

So I’ve decided I’m not going to worry about it anymore. I’m going to focus on those 3 things and let the rest take care of itself. If I sell, awesome. If I become famous, great. But it’s not really any of my business. It’s not why I do what I do. And if I need to make more money, I’ll find different ways to raise money.

But my vision is so much bigger than success or failure, money or fame. My vision can’t be broken down into goals and checkpoints* because I can’t force myself on people. I can only shine my light, share myself and hope that others respond.

* I’m aware that there are strategies to gaining more exposure and finding new audiences, but is that really the point here?

And if you’re really gung ho on goals and you really want to be rich and famous, then good for you! Go do that. If that’s what makes you happy, then I’m all for it.

But don’t beat yourself up if it hasn’t happened by tomorrow or next week or next year. You’re probably a success in a million other intangible, immeasurable ways that the world of money and fame could never even comprehend.