Success is a phantasmagorical swine. In chess, the rules are relatively simple, the world is black and white, and you know what success looks like. You know what you need to do win. But in life, it isn’t so simple: diving into a swimming pool of money? Leading corporate empires? As simple as shared love, perhaps? There seems to be no single formula as we don’t know what the game looks like. We know what the end looks like – death! – but in between that, you know, as we tread the long march towards death (jeeezz, what a downer!), success evolves entirely to a question of personal choice.
It’s amazing how many famous people, dead or alive, celebrity or scientist or comedian, we would label successful and yet battled crippling depression, anxiety and self-doubt. Winston Churchill famously wrote about suffering from the ‘black dog’, now common parlance for the affliction. Abraham Lincoln, Peter Cook and Spike Milligan, and since it’s almost Oscar time and At Eternity’s Gate is showing, the infamous and plagued Vincent Van Gogh. Hero’s are often depicted as trying to prove others wrong, yet it seems the real battle is within: forever trying to prove themselves worthy of their own love, which no matter their lifetime achievements, remains elusive.
Self-love and compassion for oneself isn’t based on achievements or goals or tasks ticked off during the day – he says, looking at his post-it note of lists with adjacent ticks. Perhaps it’s the success of knowing that you tried your best with your gifts, bestowed or acquired, and that perhaps you made someone else’s life a little bit happier, no matter how trivial it seemed for that fleeting moment you were acquainted. Out of the all the books I sourced this week which got me quite excited - John and Claudia Altichore’s The Power of No, Peter Thiel’s Zero to One and Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends Upon It by Kamal Ravikant – it’s the latter that inspired me to reach out to the author and thank him for sharing his story. Zero to One is also excellent by the way, the ex-Pay-Pal CEO has a singular vision and drive which strides from the pages, finding a niche in his book that others rarely talk about i.e. finding that niche for your start-up. Jumping into a competitive marketplace is hard, jumping into one that doesn’t exist makes much more sense. In listening to venture capitalist Mike Maples on a Tim Ferris podcast, since 93% of start-ups are successful only after a pivot, it almost doesn’t matter what the company’s initial vision is. Find the niche, find your niche.
As with the last few weeks I’ll leave you with an excellent quotation from James Allen:
‘The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart -- this you will build your life by; this you will become.’
Writing and writing...