What I’ve Learned About Success: Three Things to Remember on Your Path to Greatness
“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
I have had the good fortune in my life to have experienced some success. As a playwright, I’ve been published, As a producer I’ve achieved Broadway credits, and as an entrepreneur, I’ve founded a conference and built and maintained my own business for the last couple of years. As a result of some of these things, I have been introduced to others who have had great success in business, the arts, and more, and through a number of these conversations I have learned a few key things about success that I’d like to share with you.
ONE: Success looks very different from the outside – If we take a careful look at success from the standpoint of the media and indicators like awards, accolades, Facebook likes, Twitter followers, etc., the prospect of it seems pretty far off. These things also distort the image we see of other people.
Think of anyone who you consider “successful” and you’ll realize that from a media standpoint, they take on the quality of Oz the Great and Powerful, when in reality, in life, they are simply the man or woman behind the curtain.
I have had many conversations with people who are changing careers or who are deciding to break into a certain businesses who express fear in reaching out to someone in their industry who is successful because they feel inferior and wonder what they could possibly offer. I have to remind them that we are all still human.
No matter how much money we make or how famous we are, we still have wants and needs and we still love and hurt and dream.
The context is different for each person, but the story is the same. We all have our own hero’s journey towards our dreams. If right at this very minute you are feeling shy about reaching out to someone because of their status, give it up and just reach out. You never know until you try right?
TWO: The prospect of success can be more damaging than failure – I know that this probably sounds crazy in light of all we hear about believing in something and allowing it to “manifest,” etc., but time and again, in my own life as well as the lives of those close to me, I have watched the prospect of success lead to self-sabotage.
How does this work? We look at the possibility of something really working and then we look at what it could mean for us and we simply get overwhelmed.
I was once offered the opportunity to put together a proposal for a very large consulting gig in the early stages of my business and I totally froze. I couldn’t fathom how much work I’d have to do or how much money I should charge and as a result, I let the gig sit there for a number of weeks and eventually I lost the opportunity.
One thing that experience taught me is that you have to act on whatever comes your way even if you think it’s outside of your scope. No one is an expert when they start something. No one is a master on their first try, but if you simply let the balls pass you and you don’t swing, you’re never going to get past home plate.
If there is any call in your voicemail, message in your inbox, or introduction that has been made for you that can change your life, stop worrying about what you can handle and dig in.
THREE: Success is responsible for both heroes and villains – The other day, I received a warm introduction from a friend to someone who, in the entrepreneur world, one would categorize as successful. I responded enthusiastically and was met with a dismissive attitude. This person most likely took a look at what I’ve done so far in my life, got out the measuring stick, and decided I wasn’t important enough. And this is how success makes a villain.
If you are ever fortunate enough to become very successful I urge you to remember that, at one point, someone had to show you some kindness in order to get to that next level.
The most successful people are usually the most kind and giving. If you encounter someone claiming to be “successful” who is rude, RUN away.
I have also had the good fortune to meet some people who were even more successful than the individual I described above and was pleasantly surprised to find that they took the time to chat with me and to offer advice and guidance.
Make the choice today that, no matter how small or large your success, you’ll be sure not to let it corrupt you.
On the path to greatness, you’ll encounter a lot of twists and turns, but if you remember to always put success in proper perspective, then your success will be that much more rewarding.
Be a hero.
The world is waiting for you.