Recently, I had a conversation with my dad about how people become famous. You know when someone emerges from obscurity only to take the world by storm? Really, how did that happen?
My dad based it on luck and chance even though I remained unsure. Like, isn’t there something more to it all? Nevertheless, as we winded down our talk, he ended with the following comment, “being famous doesn’t always equal success.”
While I have heard this statement before, it seemed to really resonate with me this time. Previously, I equated success with being well-known due to one’s achievements and reputation. Crazy, I know! But since the accomplishments of celebrities are typically front and center, along with loads of money, whether or not their endeavours are good or bad, I thought they embodied its meaning.
Nonetheless, I dug into Webster’s New World College Dictionary (2005). I found that ‘success’ is defined as 1) result or outcome, 2) a favourable or satisfactory result or something having such an end, 3) the gaining of wealth, fame, rank, etc., and 4) a successful person. In contrast, ‘famous’ means “much talked about, having fame or celebrity” according to the same dictionary.
As you can see, there is no fixed way to describe success, whereas being famous requires the attainment of a specific social status. Yet despite this knowledge, we often find that we compare our lives to others.
For example, you may measure how long it took a particular blogger on WordPress to gain 1,000 followers, which then becomes the yardstick for evaluating your own blogging journey.
Isn’t this such an awful way to live? I think so. The issue should never be who has more or less of anything, but rather the joy it brings to you and others. Because if you are not happy doing what you do, then there is a huge possibility that you won’t be doing it for very long. Yeah, you may be “good” at it, but you won’t love it, and that is most important.
From my perspective, society has things backwards. Everything is about microwave results because if things don’t happen instantaneously, its seen as a failure. However, think about many famous people, they went through the wringer to accomplish their goals.
Some went through several acting auditions before they landed their breakout role, others experienced the rejection of several publishers before getting their first book deal, and those we don’t hear about just continue to make a difference without the spotlight. That’s real success.
So the question of why some people are more successful than others is not fitting. Instead, we all should water our grass to make it greener, which will look very different from other people’s lawns.
As Herman Melville, an American novelist, said, “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”
Therefore, be successful at being you.