Defining success

Sometimes it’s incredibly obnoxious how surrounded we are by successful and ambitious entrepreneurs and engineers in Silicon Valley. You can’t sneeze in downtown Mountain View without spraying at least one Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn employee with a few particles of your plebeian phlegm.

If I had a nickel for every time I sat at a cafe downtown and overheard a couple of guys no older than me discussing their latest project for their hot new startup that’ll make Microsoft look like children’s play, I’d have enough money to fund my own hot new startup that would totally make their startup look like a preschooler’s lemonade stand on a winter evening in Winnipeg.

Honestly, hearing these conversations makes me alternate between feeling intensely motivated to succeed, and wanting to kill myself. Given all the opportunities life has presented me with, I’ll be pretty pissed if I blow it. I kind of owe it to the world to give back.

Hearing about other people’s stories of wild success also makes all my small accomplishments seem so inconsequential. I’ve created a post that reached the front page of Buzzfeed with over 75,000 hits, and another couple that have gotten to the front of Reddit with even more views. This website itself has finally gotten over 10,000 unique visits in spite of being incomplete, and in the past couple weeks I’ve gotten four articles published with Huffington Post.

In most of these cases, reaching each goal was pretty anticlimactic. The only accomplishment that was particularly exhilarating was getting published in HuffPost for the first time, until readers quickly shat all over my story and assaulted me with retardedly negative comments. I found that the excitement of having reached a goal wears off relatively quickly, and I’m usually left feeling empty and thinking, “Now what do i do?”

I imagine people experience similar emotions when they start earning a lot of money, or accomplish something they never thought they could have done. Or maybe that’s just me, and I have low self-esteem. But I don’t think being “successful” will really affect my happiness unless I feel it adds some value to the world or has some positive influence on other people. I’d rather work the job of my dreams for minimum wage than punch numbers into an Excel sheet full-time for a six-figure salary. I’ll just probably have to marry rich.

I think the secret of success is to always be learning, always be developing yourself, always try new things, and always bring yourself outside your comfort zone. Mission accomplished.


2 Responses to Defining success

  1. Hi Alex…I agree with you on much of this article…including the part about how “success” is completely overrated in our culture. By continuing to grow and learn, and pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone you will at least not sell your soul or just end up winning the “rat race” because, like Lily Tomlin says, “the problem with winning the rat race is that you’re still a rat.” I too recently wrote a blog post about success and how it can trip us up…here’s a link in case you’re interested… My belief is that it is good to celebrate your successes–hey, getting published by Huffpost is cool…but just don’t let it go to your head :-) ~Kathy

    • alex says:

      Thanks for the feedback! I looked at your article and enjoyed it very much. I’ll definitely be back to your site more later :)

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