I don’t care to be a success

May 01, 2014 | 18 comments. | Comment on this post

????????????????????????I really don’t. All the books and blogs and podcasts ‘how-tos’ on SUCCESS just don’t motivate me at all.

This hit me during a recent Free Agent Academy class. Members were talking about their motives for pursuing self-employment. People got so excited talking about having more time for family, being able to create something themselves and not being hindered by the confinements of traditional employment.

But when the topic of ‘being a success’ was brought up, it was a buzz kill. It just wasn’t something anyone cared about.

And it doesn’t seem to be modesty or humility or self-deprecation.

It made me think of my pro cycling days. Very few of the guys cared about the podium….standing on top and basking in the glory. Most treated it like an obligation that disrupted the true joy. We loved the racing. The cat and mouse game for 99 miles and gunning for the line at the end. It was a rush. A personal triumph. Then afterwards it’s the war stories and celebratory food and euphoria of toasted legs. The podium was uncomfortable and felt narcissistic.

For you, do you wake up in the morning and dream of being a superstar? Having fans who adore you, paparazzi at your door and to be on the front page of magazines and papers? To have articles written about what a “Great Success!” you are? A monument of YOU placed somewhere?

Doubtful. Me neither. Honestly I think most feel the same way about all the focus toward being a ‘Leader’. We desire to influence people in worthy endeavors, but being a ‘leader’ doesn’t motivate us.

Very few people desire or are comfortable with the spotlight. Many ‘successful’ people I know have zero desire to talk about their success or themselves. Why? They had success in an endeavor. That doesn’t make them a ‘success’ overall, and they know it. The whole ideal feels goofy and unauthentic.

What they LOVE to talk about is what they are doing as a result of the success. Projects they are working on, people they are serving, freedoms they are pursuing.

The benefits of a success. It’s about the opportunity a success provides, not about the personal status.

So if all the content on SUCCESS doesn’t speak to you, join the crowd. It sounds good, but few relate to it and take action on the content pushed out about it.

If this is you, here is permission to let it go and admit, “I don’t care to be a success.” Take a deep breath, release. Let it go. Feel the peace.

Then think about the realities for your life you DO want.

If you want to feel good and look good you’ll want to succeed at a long term exercise and nutritional regime. Not so you’ll end up on the front cover of Muscle & Fitness magazine as a ‘success’, but because you want to be able to run up a flight of stairs without having a heart attack, hoist your kids up on your shoulder without having to go to the chiropractor afterwards, look good to a romantic interest and not have to hold back stinky gas in public.

If you want time flexibility in your life, the chance to truly create and deliver something of your own making and create true wealth, you may want to succeed at a self-employment endeavor. Find a product or service you can provide to the marketplace. You may not care one iota if anyone knows of your vocational success. You just want to be the parent who goes on a field trip with your kids class or goes skiing on a Tuesday when the slopes open or who can stay at home for a week and care for your wife after a car wreck (my wife is slowly recovering, thanks for all the prayers).

You can be you, not seeking stardom. Finding joy and ‘success’ in the pleasures and fullness of a life lived purposefully and meaningfully. Your life. The one life you get. Not caring a bit to bust your arse to be viewed as a’ great success’. Just tasting the benefits that come from successfully accomplishing some core missions and roles in your life.

Here’s to you just being you. And experiencing the benefits of some successful ventures in your life.

  • http://20minuteblackbelt.com/ Eric Gale


    First of all, I’m glad to hear Teri is doing better. I think being able to tend to her makes your life “a success”.

    I was listening to a podcast recently and they were talking about some of their “friends” that had become “successful”. He no longer associate with them. These people had changed, and not for the better.

    He wondered that if these people had imagine their perfect week before they “made it”, their current life was far from it. That doesn’t seem like success to me.

    A bank account can be a good way to keep score, but life is more than money. Money shows how much your work is appreciated- since people worked hard for their money and have given it to you in exchange for your product or service.

    To me, success is reaching your potential and having friends.

    No man is a failure who has friends.


    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      OK, you win. “It’s a wonderful life” is dear to me. I was actually thinking about it last night, I think I’ll watch it soon. Never watched it aside from Christmas time.

      I had a long talk with a close friend last night who is dealing with someone in his life who achieved a great success and now views himself as ‘successful’, and is going off the deep end.

      Thanks for sharing Eric.

  • http://www.currentfinances.com Don Current

    If I’m honest, I do get jealous at times when I see successful people. I guess it is somewhat human nature. I remind myself though, that I really don’t want it, because I would have to give up the things I really care about to have it. I am MUCH happier today than I was when I was climbing the corporate ladder. Achieving those goals was a short lived excitement. Now I get up every day knowing that I get to choose what I do, when I want to do it and with whom I want to. So much better than being good at serving someone else’s wishes and desires.

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      so if your business sky rocketed and you made six figures per month and had 20 employees, would you consider yourself a ‘success’?

      • http://www.currentfinances.com Don Current

        I already do consider myself a success. :-) I read your original blog post as talking more about the world’s definition of success which has to do with status and pinnacle accomplishment. I’m a success because my family is happy and well balanced and we’ve got food on the table and a roof over our heads. If I DID accomplish those things you mention without losing these more important things, then I’d still be a success. If I accomplished the business side of things but lost my family, I’d be a failure regardless of what others thought.

        • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

          You’re definitely a success in my book, brother.

  • martag

    I think there is a close tie in between your why and your definition of success. One definition I read is “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose”, other definitions refer to prosperity and popularity. While prosperity is something I am working towards it is not the core of my view of success. If I can accomplish the freedom and flexibility I need and long for, if I can find fulfillment in the work I do, then I will feel highly successful.

    But it is hard at times because society does associate success with money and power. When you see someone highly successful, nice clothes, expensive trips, nice car, etc. it can make you wonder.

    What I’m realizing that if I stop and think about what my Big Why is I realize I probably do not want their version of success. But it sure can be tempting to look at what I am doing, wondering if I’m “doing it right”, why I’m not successful and what do I need to do differently. Knowing and keeping your why front and center it sure helps and is a great reminder of your values and your definition of success.

    • http://www.currentfinances.com Don Current

      Yeah, what she said. :-)

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      Well said Marta. Made me think…it’s about succeeding at something. We all want to succeed at certain things. But just working to ‘be a success’ doesn’t resonate.

      • martag

        That is a good point too Kevin – just working to ‘be a success’ isn’t defined, it is a shot at the dartboard hoping it lands close to the center. Succeeding at something is (hopefully) more defined, you can get to the point where you say I want to succeed at _____ and work towards a defined target and not just hoping you get there.

      • tedyoder

        I would agree with you here Kevin. It’s not about being called or considered a success by others. The bar is set internally and it’s different for everyone. What I consider a success today might not be what I call it a year from now. I have goals that I think I want but really, as long as I’m moving forward in my family and work, then I’m being successful. I’m successful when people tell me that I have great kids. That really is more than making a buck. I guess you could say that “succeeding” and “being a success” are two different things to me.

        • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

          “I guess you could say that “succeeding” and “being a success” are two different things.” Absolutely Ted.

  • Daryll Bryant

    WOW! well said! I have to admit I was curious when I read your headline in my email. I thought, “of course I want to be a success! what in the world is Kevin talking about?” As I read your post, I was in total agreement, except I automatically consider a success someone who is living THEIR dream, not someone else’s dream, and NOT only to have others see them on the podium! It’s a bonus when we get to live OUR dream AND someone else sees it and wants to learn how they can live THEIR dream and we can help out! Kudos!!!! keep up the good “work” ツ

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      Hey Daryll, I’m honored you chimed in! Yes, you’re mirroring what Marta said above…defining it by your personal aim and purpose. Thanks brother.

  • http://www.PattyGale.com/ Patty Gale

    This is a great post, Kevin… and I an so glad to see that Teri is doing better! Doug and I have this conversation a lot. I have never been an ‘on stage’ type of person. Awards and ribbons don’t mean much to me. When I got started in my business, my sole motivation was to make enough money so that I didn’t have to go back to a corporate job after maternity leave. To not put my newborn daughter in daycare. That was it… Nothing more. She’s now 13 and I’m happy to say, that goal was achieved. I get to have breakfast with her every morning, get to pick her up from school every day and can be at all her events. All the accolades, awards and huge bank accounts don’t mean much if I had a daughter whose memories of childhood were absent parents chasing society’s definition of success.

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      Such a great testimony Patty. Such an inspiration.

  • http://www.TheNaptimeCEO.com/ Megan E Burns

    Love this Kevin! We need to create our definition of success and not let the world dictate it to us. I also love how you talk about the benefit or what you’re able to do as a result of success. It’s so much more than just financial success, just being you.

    As a result of everything I’ve learned in FAA about building a life and a business, I wrote this post: How Do You Define Success (http://thenaptimeceo.com/2014/02/07/how-do-you-define-success/) which comes back to your point about being content with who you are, knowing your boundaries, and knowing you’re on the journey.

    Thanks for all you do Kevin!

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      This means a ton to me Megan. Thank you…and so stoked to see you inspiring others to the success that matters to them.