I Hope I Never Feel Successful


My wife, Lisa.

I hope I never feel successful. Let me explain.

My wife Lisa is one of the most healthy and in-shape people I know. When she goes to the gym she’ll see other women hitting the weights and she will feel like she’s not really that strong. “I mean, look at those chicks over there. I’m so weak.”

Last week at work, Lisa was carrying three boxes down a hall way. As she tells the story, someone asked her if the boxes were heavy. Lisa said, “No, they’re not heavy.”

Later in the day, the person asking about the weight of the three boxes had difficulty lifting even one.

Lisa’s strong. But she doesn’t consider herself strong. It’s not a “look at me” strong. This is only because she subjects herself to the influence of people who are better than her.

I run a small creative agency called Blue Ocean Ideas. It’s very easy for me to look around at all the big agencies, all the great speakers, all the amazing designers, all the compelling authors, all the tech startups, all the people that get a lot of press, all the bloggers, all the cool kids, and say, “I want that. I’ll be successful when I have that.” Sometimes this can depress me. Other times it inspires me.

Whether it’s Lisa going to the gym and being around people stronger than her, or me following guys on Twitter who are doing inspiring things with their careers, this is how we push ourselves. We can position ourselves to not see ourselves as the best. It makes us better.

If I put myself in the position where I always felt great about who I was and what I do, I would being doing a huge disservice to those around me, especially my clients. My clients get the benefit of me subjecting myself to the leadership and influence of people better than me.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but I think that only as I continue to feel like I have no business doing what I’m doing (I mean, look at that guy! He’s awesome! Who would want to hire me?) will I have any chance at being good at what I do.

And by the time I get to where I want to be, I’ll be staring at another mountain.

I’m ok with never feeling successful. I hope I take the time to glance backward – just ever so often – so I can at least feel progress and contentment.


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