We are victims of our own success.
If you’ll allow me — today I want to talk about something bigger than design, entrepreneurship, or any of my other usual topics.
Today I want to talk about purpose, passion, and the pursuit of happiness.
We are often victims of our own success. Early, unimaginable, rare success is all it takes to easily edge aside purpose, passion, and the pursuit of happiness. Of course, the irony is that early, unimaginable, rare success is a result of purpose, passion, and the pursuit of happiness. But life is twisted, and it just so happens that this one specific result — the greatest success of those things — is not a success at all.
When the world has turned on a spotlight for you, the light is pointed by many individuals. The result: a much, much brighter spotlight than your own. One that you would be “crazy to ignore.” BUT — as it is shone collectively by many individuals — it isn’t pointed quite where you are; it’s a bit off . It’s where the individuals want you to be, or think you should be, or think you are. And each light is just a little bit off from the next, so the world’s bright spotlight for you is wildly unfocused. Unlike your own almost perfectly focused, crisp-edged light that you have a burning desire to keep alive and make brighter, the world’s has the brightness of thousands’. So, you have to step into this wrongly-placed, unfocused light — because, in the infamous words quietly derided by anyone who has experienced this, “you’d be crazy to pass this up.”
It’s easy to lose who you are and what you are about when you’re stuck in the spotlight cast by others. It won’t move as you begin to understand yourself more deeply, as you discern new beliefs, and as you react to the new things you learn every single day. Your own light moves with you instantly. Thousands of others’ lights won’t. You end up stuck. You end up a victim of your own success.
The only defense we have is to pass up others’ spotlights. Stand squarely within your own. Understand your purpose. Explore your passions. Pursue happiness — whatever that may mean to you. Seek to understand yourself more deeply every week and every month. Don’t feel the need to offer a projection of your old self to comfort an existing audience with falsified stability; move so authentically with your ever-deepening understanding of yourself and your world that those watching learn to love that you’re a moving target in search of something far greater than “success.” You’re in search of yourself. There is no pursuit more rewarding for yourself and for everyone you affect.
I’m certain we spend our entire lives seeking to understand ourselves more deeply. It seems that life is a constant discernment process fueled by new experiences, learning, relationships, and work.
And the more we understand ourselves, the better we can approach the world with confidence. Of course, if we’re up against past successes, it will be easy to slip into the comfort of the role we once took. But this leaves no room for the hard, time-consuming work of discerning our purpose and how it fits into a world that is constantly changing and that we’re constantly learning more about. And we must consider the fact that we are each constantly changing and learning more about ourselves!
Others’ spotlights don’t allow for this kind of flexibility. To have the masses all move their light for you, at the same time, in the same way, would be impossible!
Live in your own light. Keep it focused. And let it move just as rapidly as you discover new things about the world and about who you are, what makes you tick, and where you’re headed.
What is your purpose? How do you currently execute on it? How do you want to execute on it in the future? Don’t let success keep you from making that move. Don’t become a victim of your own success. Your past success was fueled by you. Seek to be the truest you whom you can be. Seek to be resiliently you. You’ll soon find that “success” is not a word that matters to you.
The truest you will discover something far, far brighter in life: purpose, passion, and the pursuit of happiness. Whatever that may mean to you.