story, success

This just in: Successful doesn’t mean forever

The end.
The end.

“We are all stories in the end. Just make it a good one.” ~Steven Moffat, Doctor Who

A few weeks ago, Humans of New York (HONY) featured a woman who was recently divorced. Brandon, the creator of HONY asked her if she felt her marriage was successful and she said yes. She had several wonderful children with her ex-husband and for a long time they had a great life together. The final line really impacted me: “I don’t think something has to last forever to be successful.”

I’ve had a lot of endings find their way into my life in the last year, and many of them have made my heart heavy even if the endings were needed. This idea that things can end and still be things we point to as successful is really powerful for me. And not because every ending is a new beginning but because the ending itself is something that deserves celebration for its own sake. Endings teach us as much as beginnings and they deserve to be honored.

happiness, opportunity, success

Inspired: The single greatest predictor of success and happiness

Turn over every rock

I’ve met people who had every advantage and others who began life with less than nothing. Some of them are successful and happy; some aren’t. Talent and intelligence helps. Being organized, hard-working, and determined have incredible merits.

However, only one personality trait stands above all others as a universally common predictor of success and happiness: resourcefulness. The ability to take however much (or little, as the case my be) and squeeze every last drop of value out of it is what matters most. Every successful and happy person I know is also resourceful.

Opportunity is everywhere. It doesn’t come to those who wait, nor does it come to people who work their asses off. Opportunity, and its fruits, belong to people who see, recognize, seize, and mold it for all it’s worth. Turn over every rock and make the most of everything you find. Be resourceful.

action, career, success

Inspired: Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” ~ Jon Acuff

When we start something new, or even think about starting something new, we look at experts who are doing what we want to do. While they can be a wonderful source of knowledge and advice, we can’t directly compare ourselves to them. They’ve put in their practice time. We’ve only just begun.

Don’t let someone else’s success cause you to question your potential. At some point everyone, everywhere, started at zero. Just get started.

art, creativity, failure, Second Step, success, theatre, writer, writing

Inspired: How We Almost Lost Arthur Miller to Failure

Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller gave up the theater after his play, The Man Who Had All the Luck, flopped horribly on Broadway. It ran for only 4 performances in 1944. He attempted to write novels after that, and they flopped too. So he went back to the theater and several years later finished the Tony Award-winning play All My Sons, one of the most beloved, heart-wrenching, and successful in theater history. It took him 5 years to write it and was his first successful production. At the time of its debut, it was panned critically save for Brooks Atkinson’s review in the New York Times. Mr. Atkinson is often credited with rescuing the piece from failure. 2 years later, Miller wrote Death of a Salesman in 6 weeks and it won the Pulitzer.

Miller said this about watching All My Sons for the first time with an audience:

The success of a play, especially one’s first success, is somewhat like pushing against a door which is suddenly opened from the other side. One may fall on one’s face or not, but certainly a new room is opened that was always securely shut until then. For myself, the experience was invigorating. It made it possible to dream of daring more and risking more. The audience sat in silence before the unwinding of All My Sons and gasped when they should have, and I tasted that power which is reserved, I imagine, for playwrights, which is to know that by one’s invention a mass of strangers has been publicly transfixed.”

It would have been very easy for Mr. Miller to give up writing after his early string of failures. At that point, there was no reason to believe he would ever be successful. And yet, he kept going. He kept trying as he worked menial jobs to make ends meet while remaining passionate about his craft. All he had was raw determination.

Maybe you’ve tried to do something and it wasn’t as successful as you wanted it to be even though you gave it everything you had. Maybe you’re thinking about throwing in the towel and getting a new dream. You’re in good company. At many points, Miller considered giving up. How could he not? But he didn’t. He started again. He took the second step, and it’s that step that made all the difference, for him, for us, and for the American theater. Follow that lead.

To sign up for updates on my new book, Your Second Step: What to Do After Your Leap, by clicking here.

celebration, change, creativity, failure, faith, success

Inspired: The Dance of Optimism is the Cha-Cha

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

“Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster. It’s the cha-cha.” ~ Robert Brault

Forward, back. Forward, back. This is exactly what happens whenever we try to build something. It’s the dance of trial-error-and-trial-again. This is true of everything I’ve ever done. Nothing has ever been a linear progression from 0 to 60. The fun is in learning to ride the wave. When the roller coaster pulls up beside you, hand over your ticket, grab a seat (I recommend the front one because you can see better!), buckle up, and learn.

determination, dreams, success, work

Inspired: Love these “19 Hard Things You Need To Do To Be Successful”

My friend, Jess, posted this article on Facebook and it bolstered my spirits. Here is the link to the full article and below are the 19 hard things you need to do to be successful. So much truth in these words!

  • You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
  • You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
  • You have to give more than you get in return right away.
  • You have to care more about others than they care about you.
  • You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
  • You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
  • You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
  • You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
  • You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
  • You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
  • You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
  • You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts.”
  • You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.
  • You have to try and fail and try again.
  • You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
  • You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
  • You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
  • You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
  • You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.
creativity, dreams, luck, success, time, work

Inspired: Every dream needs luck and hard work

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

“Luck is being ready for the chance.” Every success I know of took both work and luck. What varies is the proportions of each. And don’t worry about trying to figure out how to calibrate them into the master combination. We can’t engineer it. We only control half of the ingredients. We can work hard. Luck is left to, well, luck. We can prepare to be lucky. I would argue that we must be prepared to recognize and then take full advantage of luck. But we don’t control the timing or the amount of luck we get. We also don’t get to choose the wrapper that our luck dons. It often doesn’t advertise itself. It shows up in the form of someone or something we weren’t looking for. That’s how luck rolls – to its own drummer and in its choice of costume.

So what can we do?

1.) I work harder than I need to. Often times my lucky breaks don’t require even half the work I put into them. I’m an over-preparer and I’ve made my peace with that because over-preparation gives me both confidence and wiggle room. And if by chance I fall short a bit short on the luck component, I can make up for it with extra work.

2.) I turn over every rock. I get a new client. I get a new writing gig. I meet a new person interested in my work. I keep going. I don’t stop when I get a modicum of success. I appreciate it and make the most of it, and I keep digging for more. Luck runs and out and we can replenish our supply if we keep going.

3.) I see everything as an opportunity. Everything. A trip to the grocery store. A walk with Phin. An article I read. Someone who shares something I do online. Every little thing has some element of magic. I never lose sight of that. And I try to be that source for someone else. I like to connect people. I like to tell them what I’m doing in the hopes that it helps them do something, too. Opportunity isn’t a linear path. It’s a circle and it goes round and round as long as we choose to keep it going.

Keep showing up. Keep working hard. Keep reaching. Don’t worry about searching for luck. It will find you when it’s good and ready.

Second Step, success, work

Inspired: It is not enough to leap. You must also build.

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

“There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” Anyone can leap and make a change. What no one tells us is that deciding to leap and then actually doing it is only the beginning. The real work that gets us to where we want to be comes after the leap and it requires a lot of energy, time, and effort. We have to become builders. Sometimes we regret our leap because we weren’t prepared for all of the work ahead and because we didn’t know how much work we had to do before the leap. This is why I’m working on my book, Your Second Step: What to Do After You Leap. I made lots of mistakes and I did a lot of things right. I want to share all of that experience with anyone in the midst of the same kind of pursuit.

And here’s another tidbit that I hope makes you feel better if you’re feeling a bit stuck: you don’t jump from a full room into another full room when you strike out on your own, no matter how much pre-work you’ve done. You jump from a full room into empty space. For some of us that empty space, the blank page, is exhilarating. For some, it’s a terrifying nightmare. For me, it’s a bit of both. Building is difficult work. It’s also difficult to design what you plan to build. I hope my work can help people through this process. I hate seeing people give up on their dreams, especially when they have worked very hard to make them happen. I hope I can offer them enough encouragement to keep going. 

career, success, work

Beautiful: Focus Your Vision of Success So That Others Can Help You Make It Happen

c596868fa70d40b9f9014790c616de8eYesterday one of my mentors scheduled coffee with me for one clear reason – to help me. He wants to know how I see my career unfolding in the next 3 – 5 years so that he can help me figure out how to get there. I understand how lucky I am to have a mentor who is this generous and invested in my future. It makes me grateful beyond measure.

As I walked home from my meeting, I thought about his question. Where do I want my career go? Am I doing the right things to help me get there? It’s so easy to get in the cycle of doing: to-do lists, meetings, emails. It’s easy to waste time getting no where. It’s much harder to discriminate between opportunities that keep us on track and those that take us off-track. There is no end to the amount of work that others want you to do to help them. But as a freelancer, you have to be careful. The work you do to help others also has to help you, too.

At the moment, I’m doing a lot of things that are advancing my career in the direction I want it to go. I’m also doing a few things that are distractions. It will be difficult for me to cut those things loose, but I know that’s what’s needed. Focus is the path toward and the tool to generate success. It’s also the best way to help others help you.