Are you successful as a photographer—or in any other creative arts? Wait a minute, you may say; before you can answer the question, I will have to define what I mean by success. And why is success even important?
Of course, you are right. Success in a traditional sense isn’t important at all for our creativity and shouldn’t be for ourselves either. The problem is that we almost always use some kind of yardstick to measure what is good or bad in life, included our creative endeavours. In many ways, the business world has defined and hijacked the term success—and it bothers me. Success isn’t just power and wealth. Success isn’t just something you can measure, particularly when we look at our creative undertakings.
Do you remember the post The Joy of Water, which I wrote about a month ago? In the post, I compared the creative life with the playfulness we all enjoyed in and with water when we were kids. For some this joy continues into adult life—just as creativity does for many others. When we were kids, we never asked if we had success with our encounter with water. It wasn’t about swimming as far as possible or as fast as possible, like traditional measures of success will have it to be. So why do we start doing so when we get older? Our joy cannot be measure in seconds or meters or how much. Neither can the real value of creative endeavours.
To use the water analogue for creativity: success isn’t reaching as many beaches as possible, or to brag about all the islands we have been able to swim to. Success is embracing the challenge and enjoying the interaction with water. Success isn’t only external results but more importantly an internal reward.
The way the world defines success doesn’t work for our creative life. It’s time we who live a creative life take this term back. Success is more than a list of accomplishments. Success is leading a fulfilling life—swim in the ocean and enjoy the moment, or do the same when you photograph. It’s spending time with family and connecting with friends. To be successful we have to fight, but we have to fight the right way. Success isn’t just calling attention to yourself. Jump in the water and swim, so you can discover the world, not so the world can discover you.
The biggest success isn’t about you, but about accomplishing dreams and inspiring others to do the same. True success is a reciprocal force. Use it. Jump in water and enjoy. Forget everything else.
Facts about the photo: The photo was taken with a Panasonic Lumix LX7 with the zoom set 4.7 mm, equally to 24 mm for a full frame camera. Shutter speed: 1/1600 of a second. Aperture: f/3.2. The photo was processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.