Remember that old cheer? That’s the way we spell success! While everyone may spell success the same way, not everyone defines success the same way.
Someone recently asked me how I define success, and whether it is different from the generally recognized definition. After some considerable thought, I said that success means different things to different people, and may mean different things at different stages of their life. I know my definition of success has changed over the course of my life.
Some may think of success as the big promotion, the corner office, and/or the six- (or seven) figure salary. A writer, on the other hand, may define success as hitting one of the best-seller lists, scoring a seven-figure offer in a bidding war for their latest manuscript, winning the National Book Award (or, in our case, the RITA Award), or having their book made into a blockbuster movie. While those accomplishments should certainly be considered successes, that not my definition. Success to me is finding happiness and balance in my life.
The person followed up by asking me to share three tips or pieces of advice that I believe are the keys to success.
First, know what you’re good at, and play to those strengths. Second, at the risk of sounding cliché, work hard. But phrases become clichés, because they are universally true. Finally, be kind. Even if your goal is to become the next Diana Gabaldon, Nora Roberts, or J.K. Rowling, it doesn’t follow that your goal and kindness are mutually exclusive.
Their final question to me was what did I consider to be my own successes.
My success is working in a day-job I enjoy, where I am appreciated and respected, and where what I do makes a difference. It is also giving back to my community, whether it’s through my non-profit foundation, or other community activities. And it’s feeding my creative side by writing and publishing books I hope my readers enjoy. It’s my twenty-three-year marriage to my best friend, and close relationships with friends and family. It’s those things that give my life balance and meaning.
For writers, just finishing a manuscript is a success, much less getting it published! Not many people can say they’ve done that. Publishing multiple books? Tremendous success! Winning awards? You go! But in the end, you can’t measure success by anyone’s yardstick but your own.
How do you define success, and what advice would you offer to achieve said success?