This is a conversation I had with an acquaintance a few days ago.
Him: Are you a published writer?
Him: Do you sell? I mean, are you successful?
Me: I’m not Stephen King or Nora Roberts successful, but I feel successful in my own way.
Him: I’ve never heard of your books. How do you measure success? Is it just the number of books you sell or the amount of money you make?
I found myself feeling angry with this person. I rudely said goodbye. That should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t. I found myself mulling his words around in my head the rest of the day. Maybe that’s a good question, “How do we measure success?”
Success can be measured in many ways. How much money you have in the bank. How many books you have sold. Do people recognize your name? I guess everyone has their own measuring tool.
I am successful, but maybe not in the way most people view achievement. What means the most to me in life is those who I love and care about. Love is a form of success. It means more than the bank account or the number of sells I’ve made for the month. The more people we love, the more successful. We can never have too much, or never have too many people we care for. Love never runs out. It grows and expands. It is forever giving.
Now, if this acquaintance and I would have this conversation again I would tell him, “I am successful in many ways in life. But if you ask me what I’ve accomplished, I can tell you. I am a writer. I have written books that are published. A writer doesn’t sit down and with each word typed he/she ching-chings a dollar amount. In fact, I’d say that for most writers money isn’t even the object or purpose. It’s a feeling of doing what we love. Creating literary art. It’s a talent of mythical pleasure. Just like the surgeon who operates, the teacher who teaches, the construction worker who builds a bridge, a store manager who manages, a trucker who trucks food to the stores, a cab driver who drives…not everyone gets a pat on the back for their hard work or talent. Not everyone’s name is in neon lights. It doesn’t have to be. Our reward is doing what we love to do. And that is how I measure success.”