How do you measure success?

In the Daily Telegraph newspaper this morning Max Davidson wrote about failure,  'You're a failure - now get over it.'  It examined how obsessed our society is with success. But behind every 'overnight success' there is usually a trail of heart break and failure.  Those who can pick themselves up, learn from their experiences and try again are the ones who will succeed. J.K Rowling had a suitcase of rejection letters from publishers before hitting the high spot, and although many of us will never emulate her success I recall a Literary Consultant telling me when my marine mystery crime novels and thrillers were first published that if some of her clients had pushed themselves a little harder and a little longer instead of giving up they might actually have broken through.

It's tough though when you are rejected, and like Rowling, Rowson has heaps of rejection letters from publishers and agents to show, and of course it hurts. You're allowed to wallow in self pity, but only for a very short while. A determination to succeed, self belief, and enjoyment and passion for what you do will keep you striving and being published isn't the end of it, it's only just the beginning. The striving doesn't stop there.

But to get back to failure and success in general and away from writing. What is success? Who defines it?  Success means different things to different people. Success can be measured in stages by small triumphs and victories. You might successfully have baked a cake, learnt how to knit or ride a bicycle, run or walked a mile, raised your children to be confident and generous human beings, written a story, painted a picture, whatever defines success for you is fine. If we constantly measure ourselves against others success then we will always find ourselves dissatisfied and discontented.

So, not only should we take heart from our failures and learn from them, but we should also take pleasure and pride in our successes no matter how small. Or as my dear old Brown Owl used to say, 'Pauline, there's no such word as can't.  You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it and try.'  I'm still trying, Brown Owl.


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