¢â‚¬ËœTry not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”~Albert Einstein
A lot of people in my field write about how to be successful, but I try to avoid it. It¢â‚¬â„¢s just not something I believe is important.
Now, that might seem weird: what kind of loser doesn¢â‚¬â„¢t want to be successful?
Me. I¢â‚¬â„¢m that loser.
Obviously, the first problem with success is how you define success ¢â‚¬¦ is it becoming famous, rich, creating a world-changing business, coming up with an idea that changes people¢â‚¬â„¢s lives, helping others, being happy? So many people with values similar to mine would reject the traditional definitions of success: being rich or famous or having a best-selling book or creating a huge business is not all there is to life.
And those people are right, in my book. If all you¢â‚¬â„¢re striving for is money, you¢â‚¬â„¢ll do horrible things to get it. If all you want is a successful business, you¢â‚¬â„¢ll screw people over to get it. If all you want is fame, you¢â‚¬â„¢ll give up your dignity to achieve it.
I could probably get a book on the New York Times best-seller list if I really tried, but it¢â‚¬â„¢s not something I care enough about, and I know I¢â‚¬â„¢d have to do things I wouldn¢â‚¬â„¢t be happy doing in order to get there. I¢â‚¬â„¢d have to make promises I couldn¢â‚¬â„¢t deliver on, sell something to people who are looking for answers I don¢â‚¬â„¢t have, trick them into buying the book.
I could make a lot more money than I make now, if I capitalized on all the readers I have and pressured them into buying more things. But I don¢â‚¬â„¢t think buying a lot of things is a good thing, so I¢â‚¬â„¢d feel crappy doing that. It¢â‚¬â„¢s not worth it.
So those who teach you to be successful ¢â‚¬¦ they¢â‚¬â„¢ll share methods that are a bit shady sometimes. If not, often they sell you platitudes that sound good but are too vague to really mean anything.
I¢â‚¬â„¢ve read many, many things on how to be successful (I can¢â‚¬â„¢t avoid finding them ¢â‚¬” they¢â‚¬â„¢re everywhere), and rarely will any of them really show you how to get where you want to go.
And when you don¢â‚¬â„¢t get there, you blame not the success system, but your own inadequacies.
The deeper problem
There are other problems, though. Whatever your definition of success, it¢â‚¬â„¢s something you¢â‚¬â„¢re looking for ¢â‚¬¦ something that exists in the future. It¢â‚¬â„¢s based on your desire to achieve something, your feelings that you¢â‚¬â„¢re not where you want to be.
That¢â‚¬â„¢s why the snake oil salesmen are so ¢â‚¬Å“successful¢â‚¬ ¢â‚¬¦ they capitalize on the feelings of inadequacies that other people have. I think that¢â‚¬â„¢s horrible.
But beyond that, the trap of striving for this future ¢â‚¬Å“success¢â‚¬ ¢â‚¬¦ it¢â‚¬â„¢s never-ending. You strive for more, and then when you get it, you strive for more again. You¢â‚¬â„¢re never satisfied. People who have a billion dollars, for example ¢â‚¬¦ they¢â‚¬â„¢re successful, right? Why don¢â‚¬â„¢t they stop trying to make money, then? Why would they possibly need more than a billion dollars? How can you possibly spend that much? They strive to make more because there will never be enough. They¢â‚¬â„¢ll never be successful enough.
That¢â‚¬â„¢s true not just of the rich, but of anyone who strives for success. Striving is a condition that doesn¢â‚¬â„¢t have an end, unless you give it up.
The real success
I might have a lot of readers now on Zen Habits, but I don¢â‚¬â„¢t feel that¢â‚¬â„¢s what makes me a success. I¢â‚¬â„¢ve been a success since Day 1, because even when I had zero readers, I was doing what I loved. Even when no one else would have called me a success (I really was a nobody then), I absolutely loved writing my posts, and though I don¢â‚¬â„¢t agree now with a lot of what I wrote back then (in 2007), I was happy.
Success isn¢â‚¬â„¢t about achieving something in the future, but about doing something right now that you love.
So doesn¢â‚¬â„¢t that mean I care about success? Well, sure, if you define success as whatever it is you care about, then of course you¢â‚¬â„¢re going to care about success. But then ¢â‚¬Å“success¢â‚¬ really doesn¢â‚¬â„¢t have a meaning, does it? If it can mean anything, then it means nothing.
So forget about ¢â‚¬Å“success¢â‚¬, and just find joy, passion, love, awesome-ness right now, in this moment. *That* is a success you can achieve, without any self-help course, without any method. Just go out and do it.