What’s the real meaning of success?


I’ve noticed a trend with my creative clients recently and wondered if you identified with this.

A few of them have approached me with confidence issues that started after they had a major success early in their career.

I was surprised initially. Surely a success would lead to more confidence? But it really can have the opposite affect.

An early success, means that suddenly the world is watching.

When you were a ‘nobody’, you had the freedom to experiment and take creative risks. Who will notice anyway?

When you’re well known and a success – you suddenly feel the pressure to live up to the expectations of not only yourself, but of everyone else.

The impact, on creative people, is that they can often begin to lose their natural creativity or the raw talent that led to the success in the first please. They start to put themselves under immense pressure and try and force another ‘hit song’ or brilliant performance.

The pressure can lead to less expressiveness, less creativity and more conforming. A dangerous trap for a creative person.

This happened to me to a degree. When I first started my business, I experimented with video blogs. On the one hand I was really scared, but on the other hand, I had fun because I didn’t anticipate that they would be watched by many people.

It’s not that I’ve become famous in the meantime, but I do get to work with some fairly high profile names and for that reason, I notice that I take less humorous risks, that I may have done in the early days.

The point it, as we progress in our careers, we need to be careful not to suppress what makes us really us. We need to allow ourselves to be able to connect with our innate creativity, the ideas that come from within – and to avoid the need to please or adapt to make sure we are doing what we think people want from us.

So – how do we do that? Here are my thoughts.

1. Be honest with yourself. Are you creating work that you genuinely care about? Are you being authentic? If you create work that you deeply care about – then ultimately you will be more fulfilled than if you try to create work that will sell or impress.

2. Take time out to be alone and to connect deeply with your own thoughts, emotions and creative impulses. If we’re distracted by other people’s work, then we are probably going to be influenced by their work and their ideas. Listen to your own voice and take time to dig deep.

Final thought – The artists for me that have impacted me have often been brave enough to make a few mistakes over the years. Think of Madonna – love her or hate her, she’s a real risk taker and nobody can match her individuality and stance in the world. That takes an attitude of ‘I’m pleasing myself’ first.

I would love to know your thoughts.

What does success mean to you?

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