I've never understood success.
Why is it that some things are wildly popular while others remain anonymous?
Have you ever noticed that if people don't want something, you can't give it away? Lowering the price only prolongs the agony. Remember the Hasselblad Stellar? It was released for $2,195. You can buy it today, brand new, for $895. And I bet they're still not selling. I'm sure Hasselblad thought it was a good idea when they created it. Who knew?
We all run into this, one way or another. We're creative. We make things. Many of us hope that others will appreciate our efforts.
If I post a photo on Instagram, I check back in a couple hours to see how many likes it has garnered. When I release a new title on lynda.com, I want to know how it's performing in relation to others on the site. I find positive reinforcement motivating.
Some artists say they don't care how others respond to their work. I think I know what they're getting at. The act of creating is rewarding in itself. That's true. But, just like having a quiet moment to oneself is satisfying... as long as that isn't a permanent condition.
Lack of success is often mystifying.
I have a lot of empathy for talented people who are unsuccessful. Most of the time, I can't figure out why. The ideas seem good, The work ethic is there. Yet, failure engulfs the project like a curse that can't be seen as it repels from all sides.
To tell the truth, I've never been wildly successful myself. I've had my victories over the years, and I'm lucky enough to make a living doing what I love. By the same token, however, if I let go of the rope for even a moment, I'll surely drift off into oblivion. To me, that's not success; that's a job.
So what is the deciding factor? How can anyone predict if their work will be successful or not? I doubt there's a concrete answer. So we opt for Plan B.
We leverage the little victories into momentum. This is why we need to celebrate the good things that happen. They provide the fuel that we'll need to get through the next day.
When someone complements your work, acknowledge that. Soak it in. Every success should be squeezed for all its goodness.
Odds are that neither you nor I will ever be rich or famous. But we can be happy.
Because the one thing we have control over is perception. When we learn how to see what is good and then show the wisdom to embrace it, we live to create another day.
And we all know that anything can happen tomorrow.