What's success when you're writing a personal blog–not a niche blog which you want to make money from through ads or e-books, not a corporate blog where you want to project a certain brand, but a personal blog, a notebook into which you write whatever might be useful to you and others?
Success is not a matter of becoming wildly popular.
You succeed as soon as you grasp a thought and try to think it through, writing it down. Even if you throw away your draft and never publish it (although please do–you'll be surprised at how valuable these sketches and attempts to explain can be), you have already gained a little more clarity and understanding.
You succeed again when you share those thoughts, getting over your fear, anxiety, and discomfort.
You succeed again when you look up your old posts for a solution you'd written down or a reflection you'd shared, saving you time figuring things out again.
You succeed again when people read your post–even several years later, brought in by search engines–and they learn something from it. You succeed again when they do something about it.
You succeed again when someone shares their thoughts in a comment, even if it's to point out that you've missed something. (Another opportunity to learn!)
You succeed again when one comment turns into another, and into a serendipitous connection you might never have made.
You succeed again when you learn something, and again when you do something about it.
You succeed again when you build friendships.
There are so many different kinds of success in blogging. Don't get distracted by all the fuss about increasing your subscriber count, building your personal brand, or making money through ads, products, or services. There's more to it than that. Enjoy!
Cate Huston and I are figuring out happiness and success. She wonders if happiness inhibits success, and if that jolt of insecurity is necessary for greatness. I'm happy and successful, so I want to explore what that means, and if being content gets in the way of being great.
It seems like you need that kind of driving ambition in order to live the kind of life that gets written about in books. This is great. History has both happy geniuses and unhappy geniuses, although we tend to focus more on the unhappy geniuses. (Perhaps they make us feel better about ourselves?)
The language that we use to talk of happiness frames it as a pursuit, a goal. People dream of being happy. People work on being happy. People achieve happiness. Or they achieve their previously-set goals, only to find that the goalposts have moved. They thought they'd be happy with a hundred thousand dollars in the bank, and now they want a million.
What if happiness isn't something to be pursued? What if it just is? What if you just are?
What if you accept the world as it is, and find your serenity and happiness in each moment? What if you don't need to be entertained or loved each moment? What if you can find the grace in the pain and the joy of life?
I'm happy. Sometimes I'm annoyed on the surface, but I'm generally happy, and it's fun to grow even happier–to get better at reflexive happy-do. I'm successful: I'm alive, I'm happy, and I love. (This is not dependent on being loved back, although that makes things even awesomer!)
Realization: Growth doesn't stop when you're doing well. Your questions change. Instead of asking, "Why does this suck?" or "How can I make this suck less?", you ask, "How wonderful can it be? How can I help get there? How can I help more people experience this?"
A tangent: One of the interesting job openings at work is looking for people who want to challenge the status quo. Reflecting on that, I realized that my drive is different. I want to share the status quo, recognizing that there are many kinds of status quo. My status quo is that I'm happy, I have a wonderful life, and I work with an awesome organization. Within that organization, there are pockets of status quo like that. Within each person, there are moments like that. I want to bring out those moments. There will probably be resistance, even from people who already want to change, but we don't have to be adversaries.
It's different when you start from a perspective of abundance and love.
It will be an interesting experiment to see if I can keep this perspective through the years. Deepen it. Share it.
Dreaming, I could set my sights on a job title and climb the ladder; carve out a name for myself in history through endeavor; become a titan and create an empire. (It would be nice to be like Carnegie and plant libraries all over!) There are people with drive and ambition enough for that. People will do what needs to be done.
Maybe I will explore the little way, the ordinary life well-lived. As my parents' example continues to teach me, you don't need an Extraordinary Master Life Plan to make awesome things happen. My ordinary-but-awesome life so far is working well, although occasionally people need a reminder that these things are ordinary and doable.
So: success. What is it, anyway? If I can live, be happy, and share happiness, that should be pretty good. We can figure out how wonderful life can be (for as many people as possible) along the way.
Hmm, time to read up on philosophy again. I need better words and perspectives to explore this! =)
In my dreams of wild success, I am not an executive, not a manager, not a consultant, not a seller. I am a maker.
I don’t architect complex systems. I build on the human scale: small, simple tools that make individual people’s lives better.
The mechanical translation of designs and diagrams to code has moved to other countries. Development is seen as less valuable, less interesting, less glamorous. There must still be opportunities for invention, for finding a need and solving it.
I love the concrete progress of checking requests off my list, delighting people, and building something that saves people time and effort.
This is interesting for me, because I’m learning that my happiness map can change, and there’s always more to learn. It turns out that I’m more passionate about coding than about coaching people on collaboration or helping executives learn about emerging business trends.
Maybe work is like happiness. It’s not about the goal, it’s about the journey. I enjoy what I’m doing. I enjoy what I used to do, too. There are multiple ways forward.
Like the way I learned to not stress out about “potential” in life, I need to learn how to not stress out about “potential” at work.
I don’t have a clear path for myself yet. I haven’t picked a life out of a catalogue and said, “That’s who I want to be.” I haven’t picked a job description and made that my goal.
I don’t know. There, I admitted it. This might discourage people from investing in my career. Who wants to groom someone for a particular field and then have them cross over into a different one? But I’d rather be clear about figuring things out than pretend that I’m certain.
I love what I’m doing. I’m passionate about what we can do at IBM as we learn how to work smarter. I enjoy helping people brainstorm and innovate. I’m exploring this with IBM because I’m in the right place at the right time, and I can help make bigger things happen.
But I want my life to also include rolling up my sleeves and making things myself. At some point in my life, I want to build systems that people will enjoy using.
Maybe I’ll take a sabbatical in a number of years. Maybe I’ll free up time to do this as a hobby.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll find more role models for this other path, and my dreams will expand to include what I’ve learned from them too.
What do you see in your dreams of wild success? Does it match how you’re living?
Those who are lit by that passion are the object of envy among their peers and the subject of intense curiosity. They are the source of good ideas. They make the extra effort. They demonstrate the commitment. They are the ones who, day by day, will rescue this drifting ship. And they will be rewarded. With money, sure, and responsibility, undoubtedly. But with something even better too: the kind of satisfaction that comes with knowing your place in the world. We are sitting on a huge potential boom in productivity â€” if we could just get the square pegs out of the round holes.Totally awesome. Read it. Then read it again. Then take a moment to listen for that quiet whisper, that faint urge. =)