Monday, June 15, 2009

What is Success?

Last week we talked about the fact that you, as an artist, are 100% responsible for your future. Whether you are ultimately successful or not is completely up to you. Remember you already have all the tools necessary in which to become successful.

But, what is success really? This is the topic I want to explore today.

Webster’s Dictionary defines success as:

a: degree or measure of succeeding,
b: favorable or desired outcome;
also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

So, that is what Webster has defined success as, but where does that leave us?

I mean, we all talk about how we want to be successful artists, but what does that mean exactly?

If you have decided that you DO want to be successful, you must then define what success looks like to you.

Take a little bit of time right now to let that sink in. Begin to think and explore in your mind exactly what being successful as an artist looks like to you.

Does success mean wealth for you? If so, how much wealth do you need to have to be considered successful?

Does success mean that you are recognized in the art community as a great artist? If so, what part of the art community needs to recognize your greatness? Is it local, statewide, national or international recognition that you seek?

Does success mean fame & notoriety? If so, what is the scope of your fame?

So, have you given it any thought yet?

What does success look like to you?

For me, being able to create works of art that sells consistently enough & well enough that I am able to support my family well is what success looks like to me. Of course, I also desire the accolades that come with creating great works of art, but bottom line is that I want to be able to create works of art and be able to provide for my family.

Maybe you are like me and simply want to be able to create art & support your family.

Maybe success to you is having a large bankroll & international notoriety?

Maybe it’s this.

Maybe it’s that.

Whatever it is, you must define it for yourself, and you must be specific.

Once you have determined what success looks like to you, you need to understand that you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to see it through. Remember, you are 100% responsible for your success, so you must make sure that you are doing everything in your power to make it happen.

One thing you must know is that there are no short-cuts to becoming successful. You cannot achieve success by trying to cheat the system. You must achieve success through hard work & dedication. Most importantly you must achieve success with strong moral character & integrity.

If you try to get there any other way, you compromise yourself, and any perceived success will be short lived. Once your lack of character or integrity comes to light, and it almost certainly will at some point, people will cease to do business with you.

Another thing you must know is that there is more to success than you might think. Here is what I mean:

I believe that in order to be truly successful as an artist, your perceived success should not affect any other aspect of your life negatively.

In short, you must look to become successful in all areas of your life as well. Because if you do end up becoming a world famous artist, but you have done so by sacrificing your family, your physical health or your spiritual health can you really be considered successful?

Success should never cause you harm in any other area of your life. If it does; you are not truly successful.

Conversely, if you think that there is an area of you life that is not currently running on all cylinders, you must address the issue and correct it. If you do not, the imbalance in your life will eventually begin to affect the other areas of your life and most assuredly it will affect your ability to create art. For example, if you are having issues with your health and you don’t do anything to correct it, your ability to create will eventually be affected.

When it comes to the subject of success, it pays to look for wisdom in other places. One of the places I go to quite often is the Bible.

Luke 9:25 (NIV)
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

So think of your success in the context of that verse.

Whatever success means to you, it is my hope that you are able to achieve it. Remember you must first define it, and then you must go about attaining it without letting the pursuit of success adversely affect any other area of your life.

With all that has been said today about success, I want to close with what Ralph Waldo Emerson had to say about the subject of success:

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded."

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