Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

“Success” Is Vastly Over-Rated


We’re made to believe we have to succeed or die. We’re made to feel not reaching the top is failure.

We’re driven toward actions that induce impossible decisions and our fuel is stress.

Well maybe not all of us

In 1906, William James said to H.G. Wells: “The moral flabbiness born of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That—with the squalid interpretation put on the word success—is our national disease.”

Seems like the only thing that’s changed since then is the disease is nearly International.

It never ceases to amaze me how words are taken from their natal environs and prostituted for ill-gain and nefarious purpose.

If you check the root meanings of the word success, you find ideas like: result, outcome, an advance, succession, happy outcome, which all come from a deeper root meaning: to come after

Who twisted the word to nearly eliminate the happy part? Who made it seem success wasn’t merely the next stage, from which further action becomes possible, but a pinnacle of achievement that leaves all other contenders breathless on the sides of the conquered mountain?

My father was a perfectionist. I suffered greatly from trying to be like my father.

Yet, in all justice, even though I’ve finally caught on and taught myself how to enjoy rolling hills rather than challenging breathless heights, I have gained great respect for making sure my ass is covered—learned how to baffle the fates into giving me what I want without surrendering all that I am.

The worst thing about attempting perfectionistic success is that when I fell on my face in the mud stirred up by my relentless provocations, I’d injured those closest to me

At times, I entertain myself with the nightmare imaginings of the tortured inner lives of those folk who were lucky enough to attain some materialistic mountaintop.

Repeated failure has finally made me humble enough to, very possibly, finish off my remaining years on this planet with one well-attained and widely helpful project—spreading the word about the inevitability of Global Peace

Let me close this rather high-flying post with an excerpt from Andrea J. Wenger’s blog that reveals the valley of rolling hills I’m now wandering with gratitude and patience:

“…when the doubts of my life feel overwhelming, I retreat to the one place where I always feel sure. The one place where struggle is the best teacher and failure the source of deep insight. The one place where I can get it right the fourteenth time instead of the first, and no one will ever know the difference.

“I write.”
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7 responses to ““Success” Is Vastly Over-Rated

  1. MrsWhich October 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    As usual, we’re surfing the same waves this week. I just posted this the other day:

    “Do you see the consequences of the way we have chosen to think about success? We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail. And, most of all, we become much too passive. We overlook just how large a role we all play…in determining who makes it and who doesn’t.” – Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers

    Like

  2. Pingback: “Success” Is Vastly Over-Rated | The Passive Voice

  3. cmmarcum October 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Chasing the Rainbow–when is it that we realize it is the verb in this phrase that gives us the most pleasure and not the noun?

    Like

  4. Pingback: How Do You Measure Success? « Notes from An Alien

  5. Pingback: Success In Writing, Publishing And Marketing « Notes from An Alien

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