Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How Do You Define Success? (Part 1 of 3)

"I want to be like you when I grow up." I've heard that comment from writers of all ages. And I understand.

"You're my role model," is another way I've heard it.

Both comments mean they've defined me as successful. And yes, I am, but it's because I've decided I'm a success.

My definition has shifted through the decades. When I began publishing articles, and before moving into books, I envisioned halos of success around those who had published a book—a real book through a royalty-paying publisher. In my mind, that author had arrived.

Then I sold my first book, followed by a second and a third. My concept of achievement changed to think anyone who had published more books than I had or produced bigger sales figures was successful. Thus, for me, professional triumph was a moving target.

At this stage of my development, I admit that I'm successful—but not for the reasons I once understood. At the end of my email signature each month, I write one of my maxims. Here's what I wrote one month: The greatest privilege I have in this life is to be exactly who I am.

Almost every morning I awaken and thank God for what I call my joyful contentment. I truly like my life and relish being who I am. Others may be (and are) more successful with larger sales, more published books, or any other measurement. And if I focused on external measures to judge whether I was a star, I'd probably say, "Not quite."

I'd always find reasons I wasn't successful.

And so will you.

But if you and I measure internally, it means we don't have to be famous, make millions, or publish 400 books during our lifetimes. If we like ourselves, embrace our work, and live with integrity intact, we're successful.

Each day I thank God for my talents. I didn't give them to myself. So what reason do I have to boast? My task is to be faithful in using my gifts.


  1. Thank you Cec. I needed this today. I, too, have used a retracting tape measure to indicate my success as an author. But the Carpenter doesn't pack one in a pocket of his overalls. Do you think maybe He has one on His workbench back at the shop?

  2. Love this post. I don't take time to keep up with my blogroll often enough but your writings have changed my life. I am not a writer but what you have said here applies to all professions. Thanks for sharing your talents with us.

  3. Thank you! I, too, needed this today. Looking forward to reading the next 2 parts :-)

  4. For many years I mumbled, "I'm a writer." Why? Because the next question always seemed to be, "What have you written?" I haven't written a best seller or in major magazines. Thanks to you, Cec, I learned that God gave me my gift of writing, no matter what kind of writing I do. I'm doing what God called me to do -- I am successful.

  5. I'm delighted so many of you got it. If we focus outwardly and especially if we compare ourselves withy others, we're never successful enough.

  6. Cec: I haven't published anything to speak of. But my blog entries are making a difference in people's lives. I can't ask for much more than to be used by God for the furtherance of His kingdom.

  7. Quiet Spirit says she hasn't published anything to speak of. Hey, (1) you blog and (2) you say your blogs are making a difference. So please delete your first sentence because it's inaccurate.

  8. Part of Hebrews 4:11 comes to mind. Labor to enter into the rest of God. Stop struggling to be significant, and rest assured that we are already significant in Him. Rest. Love it.

    (sorry if this post appears more than once; just signed up and couldn't figure out how right away)


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