Every now and then I’ll branch out and attend a writer’s conference. My reasons for doing so usually stem from a bout of writers block or shear frustration at my own inability to move forward within the industry, so I throw my hands in the air and venture out to see what others are doing to carve out their own success. I become disenchanted with my own abilities and stupidly start to think that the only way to succeed is to emulate, instead of innovate.
Whenever I do show up to an event I have a blast. I meet a bunch of great people, listen to a range of interesting talks, and find a renewed love for what I do. But no matter how much I enjoy myself I never walk away from an event with that piece of elusive information that will see my writing and carer soar to new heights. Why?
Because it doesn’t exist. The whole concept of emulating what has worked for someone else and expecting it to yield similar results is flawed. We are all unique and we all approach similar goals and aspirations with our own set of circumstances that impact upon the inevitable outcomes of those dreams. It’s great to listen to someone talk about their pillars of success or foolproof methods of being successful, and many of us are able to draw great inspiration from this. But the truth is that there is no one who can tell you how to be successful, because there is no one who has lived through the same circumstances or developed the same idiosyncrasies as you.
You can draw influence from the successes of others, but if you truly want to achieve you have to create your own path. You have to wake up every single day with a hunger to achieve and be willing to bust your arse to make it happen. We live in a society drowning underneath a never ending sea of instant success stories or celebrities that are born out of a minute amount of talent and damn good timing. But rather than recognise that many modern day successes are born out of unique opportunity and circumstance, we start to criticise ourselves for having to fight tooth and nail for what we want.
We misconstrue the concept of celebrity with success and convince ourselves that the only measure of our accomplishments is our notoriety. If I’m not famous I mustn’t be producing works that are good enough right? Wrong. Some of the most stirring pieces I’ve ever read, watched, listened to or viewed have come from artists virtually unknown amongst their peers. They are men and women who have carved out niches in their chosen fields and although they aren’t instantly recognisable or celebrated within their fields, they are consistently redefining what it means to create wonderful art.
Excellence comes not from the praise of others, but from a continuous honing of one’s talents. Words of affirmation and celebrity within one’s chosen field is nice, however real satisfaction and success comes from knowing that you have created something beautiful and lent a piece of your soul to a work that will live on forever.
Bragging rights don’t equate to shit if you’ve won the praise of your peers for producing second rate work that belies your true potential. We all have the ability to excel at whatever we decide to. But we have to want that excellence with every ounce of our strength. We have to consistently redevelop and redefine our craft and who we are over and over again until we become who we are born to be. You want to write? Write. You want to make music? Learn to play an instrument. You want to be a ball player? You better lace up those kicks and hit the court.
The very best of us earn our keep and blaze a trail of success that is uniquely ours. We don’t rely on the pseudo-helpful never fail theories of others, and we certainly don’t wait for pure chance to pluck us out of obscurity and hand us our dreams on a silver platter. We reach, we fall, and when we are knocked down we get back up and tell life that it hits like a bitch. This persistence and determination; this unending love for our crafts and passions is what forces us to aspire, create and ultimately achieve.
Bragging rights are earned through grit and determination. Success is achieved through hard work. You can become a legend in your own right; it just takes a lot of hard work.