Some time ago, I consulted an expert to help me come up with the right words in a certain delicate situation. The details aren’t really important. What is important is that she provided me with the language I needed and a valuable piece of advice: maybe I needed to redefine what success meant in this situation.
I thought about that, and it made a lot of sense.
And it reminded me of something. I wrote a story that appeared in an anthology about the time I tried something way outside of my comfort zone and failed miserably. At the time, I was devastated. But then, after some tears and some thought, I did redefine what success meant to me at that moment: at least I had tried, and the mere act of trying could be seen as a small success. I didn’t expect to get a self-esteem-padding “certificate of participation,” or to pose beneath a “Mission Accomplished” banner, or to receive any sort of acknowledgment for having the chutzpah to try and fail so publicly. But to walk away from an experience like that, dust myself off, and keep on searching kept me on a positive track to find whatever the “right thing” for me would turn out to be.
And then I published an eBook based on my “Zero to Sixty in One Year” blog. I did what I could to get the word out, including a post here that is truly a shameless plug. Has it been a success? Well, I guess it depends on how you define that.
I decided to do it.
I did it.
It’s out there.
A number of people have bought it (and thank you). A few people wrote very nice reviews after reading it, and I am extremely grateful to them for taking the time to do that. Did it go viral? I think the only thing I’ve been involved with that went viral was the case of measles I gave my sister when I was six and she was eight. I also gave her the mumps, so I guess that counts as another occasion.
However, the book is a real thing. Getting it done felt like a success to me. I haven’t allowed myself to get hung up on the numbers. I’m on to the next thing now. The book may sell a few more copies and that will be a pleasant surprise.
What does it really mean to redefine success? I guess it’s all in your perspective. For example: As a person who routinely writes about cocktails, when I say the glass is half empty, it’s not necessarily a negative observation. It might mean I’m in the middle of something wonderful.