I’m beginning to think that for me there are two parts to this success thing.
There’s the success of doing what I love to do – and constantly learning how to do it in a way that’s more fulfilling. That’s my personal and unique journey. I’ll accept or reject the “help” that comes towards me, depending on whether it works for me or not. The journey is ongoing, and it’s the moment by moment experience that’s exciting, not so much the destination. The destination is an idea – and it can be a thrilling one – but the journey is a reality, it’s where I feel and think, act and interact. It’s how I know I’m alive.
Then there’s the other part, the “success in the world” part. In the past I’ve believed that nobody wanted or liked what I wrote. I tried adapting myself once – and what a fiasco that was! I wrote a novel, which was rejected by about 10 publishers. I kind of gave up. Then out of the blue I called a local publisher to ask about something entirely different, and on the spur of the moment said “by the way, I’ve written this book, do you think you might be interested?” I really didn’t think she would. Well, the upshot was meeting with the editor in a book/coffee shop and being told “I love it”! She didn’t have any resistance to any part of it, and said that she could see I would be one of those writers who wouldn’t need any editing. Really really loved it.
Over the moon was I.
Then she that she was nervous to trust her own gut, and two of her readers hadn’t liked the book, so she thought I should make some adjustments – even though she didn’t agree with their.
The short version is that I spent 8 months trying to please people who couldn’t agree on what should be done. I met the editor in the supermarket one day and she looked so embarrassed and I knew.
It was over. 8 months for nothing.
One of the readers who rejected my book HATED it – wrote a vitriolic report, which I couldn’t even read at first. In the end I braved it, and pulled out every nasty word she’d used and put them together in a paragraph. Then I realized, none of it was about my book, it was about her. It was a big learning curve. No more adapting for me. In future, I’ll be the decision maker. If somebody wants to publish me, I’ll decide whether I like their terms or not, I’ll decide whether any changes they want to make will add quality to my book or not.
So adapting myself to please others didn’t work for me in any way at all. It’s hard, because of course I want to be published and I want worldly success. But not, alas, at any cost.
Now I’m beginning to think the question should be not “how can I adapt myself to be pleasing?” but “how can I let people know that I’m here, without compromising myself?”
The first question is soul destroying, it gives your power away, it makes you hate what you’re doing – and it doesn’t have a definitive answer. Nobody can answer that question with absolute certainty of being right. Because who are you going to try and adapt yourself to? Which group of people? Which nationality, which age? And how do you know what they want, how does anybody? How can you know that what they want will actually bring the success they promise? You can’t. Well, I couldn’t. It took me into no man’s land. Never want to go back there again.
For me, the question “how can I write what people want” isn’t one that can lead anywhere except down a dusty, winding, torturous road to heartache and misery sooner or later. And maybe even bitterness. In this scenario I’m being a follower, I have no power at all. I’m sure it shows, people smell it.
The second question, though – “how can I let people know I’m here?” – is a totally different thing. First of all I’m assuming what I do is okay, which makes me feel great about myself. I’m asserting my right to be who I am, I’m communicating that honestly, I’m conveying passion and energy. I feel alive! I’m not giving my power away. In this scenario I’m being a leader, I’m establishing myself as the authority – on me and my work. I reckon people respond to that.
Plus I can act on my decision, because the question has an answer, YESS!!! There are all sorts of ways I can place myself in front of people. I love options that keep opportunities alive for me. So I’m going to give it a bash. Watch this space.
The last word on this is that being adaptive and over-pleasing doesn’t make me feel good about myself and it sure as hell isn’t any fun.