Jul 152014 1 Response

How I Determine Success

The temptation is to define success based on popularity. If a lot of people like you, you must have done something right.

In some ways, it’s a true thought.

Getting attention is not easy. Those who are able to gain an audience have accomplished something millions of others have tried and failed to do. (See: What Jerry Seinfeld Knows About Success)

Yet popularity is fickle. To base success solely on popularity is a dangerous game. Crowds can come and go. Public opinion can change in seconds. If fame defines success, few are famous and even fewer of us would really desire to be successful.

There is more to success than popularity. (See: Success Is More Than One Shining Moment)

How should success be defined?

As a communicator, success is difficult to determine.

I think I know how a speech went after I deliver it, but what is the feeling of the crowd? Will they take the action steps I proposed? Do they have a changed heart based on what I shared?

Writing is sometimes easier to gauge. Metrics are present to reveal how many people shared an article, retweeted it, or left a comment.

However, in both speaking and writing, I do not gauge success based on the number of positive comments or responses. I do not define it in response to Facebook shares or page views.

Success should not be determined based on the number of people who respond to a communication, but the specific people who respond.

When I wrote the article An Ever Changing Grief, it did not get an overwhelming number of shares or views. In comparison to other articles, some might consider it average. Yet the number of widows, grieving parents, and others who have experienced great sorrow chose to share the article, like it on Facebook, and send an encouraging private message. I knew I had written truth.

I received a good amount of criticism for writing about the N-word in the article “Just Because I Can, Doesn’t Mean I Should” and about racism in the article “What a White Man Knows About Racism.” Some may consider those articles failures, but the few compliments and shares from people who have been hurt by the N-word far outweigh any negative comments or apathy from those who have used the word.

Several people laughed at my article “You Will Have an Affair If…”, but those disagreements were mitigated by a few people who have had an affair and said the article was accurate.

In communicating ideas, a few people define success far more than many people. If someone has the experience which confirms the ideas I am presenting, their voice is far more valuable than someone who has never experienced the situation.

When it comes to defining success, I care more about who agrees with me than how many people agree. (See: Every Successful Person I Know Does This)

As it is with writing and speaking, so it is with life. Success cannot be determined by popularity. Crowds do not define right versus wrong. The world could be for you even though you are a failure or you could be all alone even as you do what is right. The majority does not define success. I would much rather have the support of the right people than the most people.

Do you want success:

In Marriage. Do what marriage counselors and your spouse believe is right, not what a majority of your friends believe is right.

In Parenting. Forgo your child liking you in the moment and determine what is best for them in the long-run.

At Work. Understand your bosses expectations of you and consistently meet them.

Popularity is fun. Commanding crowds is intoxicating. But never confuse masses of people for success. Find the people you respect and do work which they applaud. That is my definition of success.

One Response to How I Determine Success
  1. […] I’m convinced without that accidental step, I would not be writing today. I would have tried t... kevinathompson.com/five-steps-starting-blog

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