People usually define success in one of two ways. They either describe themselves as successful when they have obtained material wealth such as money and fame, or they see themselves as success when they are happy and content in the life they are living. Being of a mindset that rejects the concept of simplistic or easily attainable satisfaction, I tend to see success as something outside either idea. When I analyze my satisfaction, I usually find myself questioning how I could have pushed things further, how I could have altered certain details of a piece to suit my aesthetic in a more effective way. When I return to an idea and make those alterations, when I’ve worked past the first completion and recreated something again and again until I can’t find a thing left to change, that is when I’m satisfied, and that is when I am successful.
Sometimes I am presented with the objection that this is not a healthy way to live. How can I be happy if I am never satisfied? Satisfaction and success may play hand in hand for me, but my happiness is not dependent on either one. Most things in life are not as grand or beautiful as the way they are portrayed in books or on film, but it doesn’t mean that experiencing them didn’t make me happy, even if it wasn’t quite what I had expected or hoped it to be. Anything can fall short of your greatest desire and still make you incredibly happy. Satisfaction is neither good nor bad, and used the wrong way it can be very dangerous, but used correctly and it can make you more successful than you ever imagined.
My dad grew up wanting to be a full-time musician. I grew up watching him working as an accountant. Of course, he still plays guitar and performs for an audience, just not in the scale that he would have imagined when he was in high school and college. However, I was raised seeing my dad happy to be doing what he was doing, working hard to always improve, and finding success after repeating a series of chords over and over again until he got it right. He then works harder again. He doesn’t allow himself to be satisfied, he works hard, then he works harder, and that’s what I strive to do. That is my definition of success.