What is the Definition of Success?

by Guest Author on · 2 comments

I have this con­ver­sa­tion with peo­ple (mainly musi­cians) when we’re talk­ing about what our goals are. I think a lot of musi­cians get into music for the for­tune and fame, not real­iz­ing that there are a very lucky few that achieve that. And I know so many super-talented musi­cians that have never “made it”. But going down that road you start won­der­ing what is “mak­ing it”. Many of us have achieved vary­ing degrees of suc­cess in the things we do, be it sports, danc­ing, pol­i­tics, etc. So, for those of us that have never got­ten there, wher­ever that is, but still have the love and the dreams, it’s good for us to keep in per­spec­tive why we do what we do.

For­tune and Fame

This is prob­a­bly the most attrac­tive rea­son for any­one to get involved in some­thing. In any class­room, in any part of the coun­try, a major­ity of kids want the glitz and glamor (I will admit this is prob­a­bly the first rea­son why I was attracted to music, but it’s not the rea­son I stuck with it). This can be a very pow­er­ful moti­va­tor. How­ever, it will also turn a lot of down-to-earth peo­ple off. And, the amount of peo­ple that actu­ally reach this point are infin­i­tes­i­mal com­pared to the num­ber that fail. So it is very good advice to love what you’re doing regard­less of this fac­tor. If it comes: great. But don’t get too hung up on this.

For the Labor

I think there’s a good amount of peo­ple that are great at what they do, but they don’t want to go any fur­ther than where they are. I see peo­ple like this all over: the city coun­cil­man that would never run for mayor, the pro­moter that only focuses on book­ing small clubs, the cook that never thinks about start­ing his/her own restau­rant. These are peo­ple that do what they do and are suc­cess­ful at it each day. But tak­ing an uncom­fort­able risk is not on the hori­zon. They’re pay­ing the bills and this keeps them busy. It’s bet­ter to have the motor run­ning than be stay­ing in one place. They’re con­tent with this and either age has set­tled them down or their out­look on life has.

For the Love of It

It is so pure when some­one loves what they do sim­ply because it ful­fills them. This has some­thing tied up with the super­nat­ural in my opin­ion; some­thing that can’t be taken from you regard­less of per­sonal success.

I think it’s good to keep in mind that many mas­ters of their craft were not well known or even respected until well after they were gone (think Nick Drake, or even J.S. Bach who rev­o­lu­tion­ized the musi­cal form that takes us to where we are today). In the art world there are many of these types but they extend to all facets of life. Henry David Thoreau was very for­ward think­ing about Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and life in gen­eral. Gre­gor Mendel gave us our mod­ern con­cep­tion of hered­ity. But very few peo­ple out­side their fields, and some­times even their cir­cle of friends knew of them dur­ing their life­times. These are peo­ple that are going to pur­sue their pas­sion regard­less of pub­lic opinion.

(Dis­claimer!: As a musi­cian, this does not mean that I think a musi­cian should play for peo­ple just because they love it. A musi­cian must eat like any of us and should be paid for the labor required to make their pas­sion enjoy­able. But there shouldn’t be dis­ap­point­ment because we aren’t as famous as oth­ers we see with pop­u­lar Youtube chan­nels, and audi­ences around the globe.)

So, Where Does Will This Suc­cess Come From?

A per­son can be suc­cess­ful just by fol­low­ing their pas­sion. Many don’t under­stand the neces­sity of that first step. Stay­ing in an unsure state can be a drag on pro­duc­tiv­ity. But actu­ally leap­ing into it and throw­ing all your energy into some­thing is a suc­cess in itself. If most peo­ple real­ized how much effort it takes just to do that, they prob­a­bly would never attempt to start anything.

But for those of us that have jumped in, we know the strug­gles and the rewards that come from the love. There is noth­ing on earth that can keep a true dreamer from pur­su­ing their craft. Our pas­sion calls to us. We make sac­ri­fices to put in the time, to adapt, to per­fect our art or craft. And how could this not be suc­cess when are able to wit­ness the beauty of the fruits of our work.

Get Good At What You Do

Spend the time. Make blocks of time every day to improve, study, and become bet­ter at what you do. This is cru­cial. If you are going to be a suc­cess you must be good. And you have to have ideas. The way you will get there is ages-old, tried and true. Put in the time. Make sac­ri­fices. Maybe you will have to have an empty fridge, and sleep on couches, occa­sion­ally. But find a way.

And as an observer as well as an artist it is more poignant when we know the labor involved and the dis­ap­point­ment that goes along with fol­low­ing your heart. The heart has made that art, music or idea some­how tran­scend what it really appears to be. And any­one can cre­ate that. There could be some­one in a base­ment right now mak­ing it. It could be me. It could be you.


Chicago-based Joe Tripp is the front­man and key song­writer of Joe Tripp and the Hops. Hon­esty dri­ves his music, and that pur­suit of hon­esty in his music, com­bined with an admit­tedly dri­ven and per­sis­tent need to com­pete, com­plete with the demons that come with the desire to suc­ceed, are among the forces that have dri­ven the for­mer Texan to his cur­rent posi­tion in life and music.

Con­nect with Joe Tripp and the Hops here: http://www.joetrippandthehops.com

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