How To Be Successful…Right Now

FSU baseballI don’t consider myself to be successful. When I say this to people, they say, ‘no, you’ve done this, you’ve done that.’

That’s true.  I’ve done this and that.  Haven’t we all?

Success isn’t defined by someone else’s view. It’s defined by our view of ourselves. Yes, it’s narcissistic.

We really should stop pretending that we’re not all narcissists.  You are. I am. I’m guessing Mother Theresa was a narcissist to some degree — a narcissist and by all accounts an amazing human being.

If you’re a human being, you’re a narcissist. Let me check the definition of narcissist to make sure I’m not way off base here…

Narcissist (noun)

1. a person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish.

That’s pretty vague.  What’s “overly” mean exactly?  Regardless, my point is that we’re all driven in some significant part based on what we believe our self’s purpose to be, which is inherently a selfish motivation.  

So, circling back to our definition of our own success, we define and we decide when we are successful. Success for many of us is just a vague illusion we create in our minds.

For example, I’ve had a recurring thought over the years that goes something like this, ‘I better be successful by the time I’m 35.’

I have ill-defined criteria for this success.  To some degree this picture of success involves the following:

-having enough money that I don’t worry about money

-owning very nice home(s), cars, clothes, etc.

-being known as successful for something important

-being admired for a certain skill/accomplishment

These are symptoms of success just like glowing skin and a flat stomach are symptoms of health.  These things are not success.

Success is completely pouring yourself into a project that matters to you. Success is improving everyday. Success is conquering your perceived limitations.  Success is focusing on an endeavor and seeing it through to completion.  Success is not the end result.  It’s not the profit margin, not the number of followers or likes, not the press coverage. Those are the benefits and results of success.

I’ve been struggling lately to figure out why I’m not successful.  I try hard. I do the things I’m supposed to do. I’ve spent over a $100,000 on my education. I show up.  Sometimes, I even go out of my way to help people.

I recently poured myself into a project.  I created an iPhone app with my buddy Adam Platzer. It occurred to me while I was working on the app.  This is success. I was successful with this app. Laser-focusing my energy and effort on building the app day after day was success. I gave it my all, and it felt awesome. I was successful.

Don’t get me wrong, the app itself is not a success by any measure.  We don’t get thousands of downloads a day, and we have made very little money. We created an app that is useful. If you are looking for a good book to read and you like sports, then this app will provide you some value. It’s not sexy or cutting edge. It will never be featured in the App Store. BUT…

Adam and I are successful for creating the app.  Adam is one of the most successful people I know. He has very little technical training, but he’s created all these apps. He has poured himself into these projects and created something of value in the world.

How To Be Successful

1. Pour yourself completely into a defined project.

2. Live and breathe it almost every day. Get obsessed.

3. Teach yourself the necessary skills to complete the project or find people with the skills and hire them.

4. Embrace the uncertainty and obstacles that come up on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis.

5. When you want to give up, don’t. Take a break, but keep going.

And to finish on a high note, do…

Power Poses

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Photo courtesy of Florida Memory via flickr.


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William W Barnes

Creating and evangelizing world-changing products. I like Lions and Cows.
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