“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
In preparation for writing this, I slogged through a bunch of supposedly inspirational quotes on winning. Sadly only a few of those people idolized by millions for winning, appear to really know the difference between winning and succeeding. Michael Jordan nailed it.
Modern thought has that it’s not about winning or losing but playing the game and taking home the participation trophy. I understand writers who count it a win just to write a book. Until you’ve done it, you cannot know how difficult that is to do. Getting it published by someone else takes the achievement to another level.
However, that is not really success as a writer because the object of the game is not to write a book but to have others read your book. The book’s success is judged by the number of readers. That is not how writers measure success. I think we all have different scales for that. Most of those scales are dependent upon expectation.
Aiming high is important. Unrealistic expectations are the fast lane on the superhighway to disappointment and failure. A Little Leaguer should dream about playing in the Bigs. There should also come a time when he/she takes an honest inventory of their chances and says, “I may not be big league, but I love playing the game”. They then need to take that and enjoy every minute of the ride doing the best they can do—that may not be winning, but it is definitely success.
Success is meeting and exceeding your expectations. I consider myself a successful writer, not because I made the New York Times Bestseller List, but because nearly two years after Bayou Moon’s release, I’m still selling 15-20 a month. I never expected that. In fact, it still amazes me, but not as much as knowing Blood Moon is doing even better.
Numbers-wise, I’ve written more flops than hits, but I still have those people who buy and read everything I write and that’s success. Do I still dream about my books being #1 or movie studios calling to buy the movie rights? You bet I do and I’m not about to stop now. However, neither of those things will make me a winner or a success—I already am one.
There’s a story Jesus told about a woman who had a grievance. She took her case to the judge and was denied the justice she sought. So, every day thereafter she showed up at the judge’s seat pleading for justice. Finally, she wore him down and he granted her petition. Success is about showing up every single day and giving it your best for that day.
If you must choose between being a winner and being a success—be a success, and you’ll be much happier.