A while back—having grown my business to somewhere around the $25 million in annual revenue mark and still growing at 40% year-over-year—an investor looked me straight in the face and said, with a head tilt and a shoulder shrug, that the business growth I was killing myself for “just wasn’t that interesting.”
Wait, what? WTAF?!
I swear this is true. This comment was so disjointed from my reality that it led me to a hot take I’ve since come to understand a bit better:
“Success” isn’t real.
You see, success is a fleeting concept, made up by people like you and me… and this investor. It’s a moving target we think we’ve defined for culture at large, but it’s only really something we can ever define for ourselves. And yet, we forget this all the time. We FORGET that it’s all relative. To one another. To the “market,” whatever that means. Hell, on any given day of my life up to that conversation I was having with the investor, success might have been as random as whichever way the wind was blowing.
From that day on, I committed to never leave the fate of my most important dreams and projects open to the criticisms and opinions of those who weren’t “in the arena” with me.
So, out with the gold watch and Ferrari as status symbols for “making it”. We make the rules now, and if what fulfills us is what matters most, then that, my friend, is success. Here are a few resources that helped guide me when I was unsure of myself and whether I was winning or losing:
1. Authenticity is a Superpower
The simultaneously most difficult and easiest thing we can do in this life is to be authentically ourselves. Having your own compass, a sense of what works for YOU, with what “cool” means to YOU, is essential to true personal growth. Without this self-awareness, “growth” can apply to biceps, bank accounts, and boardroom business growth, but it can’t apply to YOU THE HUMAN.
To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are.
2. Personal Style Beats Trendy Every Day.
You can chase what everyone else is doing and be just one in a sea of many…OR you can do YOU and be one of one.
Personal style is your unique fingerprint in the vast world of creativity.
Personal style is your unique fingerprint in the vast world of creativity. It’s what sets you apart and makes your work instantly recognizable. Think of it as the definitive characteristic that separates successful creators from the rest. Without it, you’re just another face in the crowd, a “monkey with a finger.” But with it, you become a force to be reckoned with, someone who gets hired for their vision and unique perspective.
It’s not about jumping from trend to trend but about embedding a piece of your soul into your work. This authenticity, this genuine reflection of who you are, is what resonates with audiences and clients alike. It’s a journey to discover and hone your personal style, and it requires repetition, introspection, and a commitment to staying true to yourself.
So, ask yourself: Are you merely following the latest fads, or are you carving out a niche that’s unmistakably yours? Remember, the world doesn’t need another copy. It needs the authentic, unapologetic you.
3. Build Your Tribe
One of the most misunderstood keys to success and fulfillment is the process of building your peer group. Want to see where you’re going? Don’t look to your to-do list and internet heroes but to your circle of friends. That’s where the real gold is.
We’ve all felt the sting of pouring our heart into a project, only to release it and hear… nothing. It’s not about the quality of your work or the strategies you employ. The magic ingredient is community. It’s about building authentic relationships with those who share your passions. When you launch your next project, it won’t just be you shouting into the void; it’ll be an entire army of advocates amplifying your voice.
This isn’t about superficial networking. It’s about genuine connection. Participate in your local community, engage digitally with the stars in your field, and volunteer your skills. Remember, what you give is what you get. The world’s most successful individuals, from Tim Ferriss to Gary Vaynerchuk, most often have one thing in common: a deep connection to an engaged community. So, ask yourself, how bad do you want it? Because if you’re only focused on creating and promoting, you’re missing out on the other 50% of the equation: community. Dive in, participate, and watch as your tribe elevates you to heights you never imagined.
So, can you imagine what life would look like if you decided to do things your way instead of theirs? Let me know on the socials, and let’s start dreaming together on this.
Until next time.