Jennifer 11/11/14 – Success



Dear Jennifer,

Remember this heady feeling of success? Of the stars aligning just for you? It’s been a long time, but there it is. You have plenty more work to do, more work than you think is even possible to do, but it feels wonderful. This is the feeling you chased in college, when you’d stay up all night completing three chapters’ worth of work, when you’d bust out an essay in an hour, when you’d help the English Department’s Darling edit her work.


There’s no destination called Success (except in New Hampshire and Arkansas.) Success isn’t somewhere you get to eventually. No, success is like happiness: it’s there when you decide you want it. Every win is a reward and every challenge feels exciting. Like when, at a party, everything seems like a good idea. Will it be a good idea in the long-run? That’s for your evaluation systems to decide. Pruning is an act of success—keeping what works and fixing what doesn’t. Risk and adventure are acts of success—dancing near the flames, but not so close as to catch fire. And if you do catch fire? Well, that will be a funny story one day, because humor and learning and forgiveness are also acts of success.

Like love, success is something you do. You succeed at things. The only difference between a master and a beginner is that the master has made more mistakes than the beginner can even dream of. The master found what ways worked and pruned away the ways that didn’t. The master learned, the master laughed, the master forgave, and the master took risks.

No venture worth doing is easy, and you’ll be the first to say that the road has lumps and bumps and pitfalls. But you’re doing it. You’re venturing and adventuring.

Pride lives in success. Not the kind that results in a fall, the kind of pride where you look around and say, “I did it, and, warts and all, I love it.” It’s been a long time since you were proud, since you didn’t drag fear of failure or fear of censure around with you. It’s been a long time since you let success breathe and thrive, instead of strangling it right away with “what if’s”.

Learning guides success. There were a ton of things you didn’t know, a ton of things you still don’t know, and so you learn them. Each new item bolsters the ones before. Each new item makes you more successful, it’s like a positivity spiral. And all it took was acting like you were already successful. The seed of the spiral was in a single attitude: I am going to rock this.

So you are rocking this. You are learning, laughing, loving, forgiving, feeling pride, and driving toward success while you drive in success. Remember this feeling, Jennifer. You’ve chased it your whole life, in fits and spurts. It doesn’t last forever; it lasts as long as you allow it to live inside you. So let it live. Let yourself live. Be success.

To read more letters, click on The Path!

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