The Secret to Success in Life and Creativity
Do you want to know how much I believe in your ability to succeed in the life of your dreams?
It’s a whole hell of a lot.
Let me tell you why.
A successful career (particularly a successful creative career) used to require an insane amount of luck. Even as recently as ten years ago when I was getting my writing degree at UBC. Back then, I took a course as part of my undergrad called “The Business of Writing”. The course explained the intricacies of writing a cover letter and a pitch, of tracking down agents and haranguing publishers into dragging your beloved manuscript out of the slush pile.
And, honestly, even if you succeeded brilliantly in typing out your query in Times New Roman, twelve point and addressing a succinct query letter, chances are no one was ever going to read your shit. Best case scenario, some unpaid intern would send you a “Thanks for sending us your work. Go piss up some other rope,” form letter. I have a whole file of them.
It was the same for visual artists and singers and actors and other creatives. The message was clear – if you’re cray cray enough to embark on a “career” in the arts, prepare for fifteen years of begging people to even consider you. And forget about getting paid.
Thankfully, times have changed. Yes, there is still the traditional door-knocking route available to you if that’s your bag. Send ten stories to ten literary magazines and hope that one of them chooses you. If you’re making a go in this manner, my hat is off to you. Because that is a slog.
There’s another way.
Nothing against those fine folks who are doing it the old way, but you must admit that that way is very exclusionary.
In this new paradigm, this new digital age, there is literally room for everybody at the top.
The key nowadays, rather than relying on luck, is commitment. 100%, balls-deep commitment.
Do you want to star in a weekly television show or podcast?
Fucking make one. Make one on your phone. Share it with the world!
Want to publish a book?
Write one and publish it. Promote it yourself.
Teach yoga from your living room, if that’s what you want to do.
I’m not saying that any tripe can go viral (although this seems to be something of a downside to all this technological freedom). It still behooves you to be good at what you do. Another plus side to the digital age is that the ability to hone your craft is also at your fingertips. You can learn how to get good at just about anything via online courses and seminars. Masters and teachers are out there, just waiting to share their subject matter expertise with someone like you.
Get good at what you love to do. Do it every day, without excuse. Then share it with the world. Then get good at sharing.
The world needs what you’ve got to share. You’ve probably heard it before.
But did you believe it?
“Maybe that’s true for other people, but it’s not true for me”
I’ve heard this excuse many times before (and said it a time or two myself), but I refuse to believe it. As Buddy the Elf says, “There’s room for everybody on the nice list.”
Bad example? Fair enough. Let me use myself as an example.
I quit my corporate job for a helping job, thinking I was making the right move. Three short months later – total nervous breakdown.
From the ashes of my sanity arose this blog, however. When I first started writing it, only a few people ever read it (Thanks, Mom!).
Now, my readership doubles weekly. I’m not where I want to be with it yet. In fact, I have a rather long list of improvements I want to make and courses I want to take. My point is that by committing to publishing every day, I’ve had success that I never dreamed of. Sharing my foibles and fuck-ups (as well as my successes) has helped people navigate their own murky times and celebrate their own triumphs.
My level of success has been directly proportional to my level of commitment – and I only plan on going up from here. Nonetheless, I also crave balance between my home and family life. I want to be the one who picks my daughter up from school – to enjoy that thrilling, bittersweet moment when I see her before she sees me, unguarded in her natural habitat. I want to be my baby son’s whole world for as long as I possibly can be. As such, my success is proportional to the amount of time I spend on my business. The perk of my ass is directly proportional to how often I can sneak in a P90X3 workout when my son is napping.
This notion of commitment = success is both empowering in its lack of lotto-mentality, and scary in its level of responsibility. You mean no one else is responsible for my “making it”??
Let me put it to you this way:
Want a six pack?
How much cheese are you prepared not to eat?
Want to run a marathon?
Are you prepared to commit to training for the weekly equivalent time of a part-time job?
Want to be a memoirist?
How candid are you prepared to be about your own inadequacies?
Want to make money as a photographer?
How willing are you to get really great at marketing yourself?
Whatever your answers are, no one is judging you. I, personally, prefer cheese to abs.
I really do believe that we can all succeed – every single one of us – if we sincerely commit to showing up in our lives more often than not. If you half-ass show-up, you can expect half-assed results. This will be true for your creativity, your career, your health, your desire for balance.
The good news is that I fully believe in your ability to show up now that the secret to success has been de-mystified.
100% committed to making sure we all get there,