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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Lance Ekum August 1, 2014 at 10:32 am

Josie!!!!!!!!! Mwuah!!!! The alternative (and it’s a good one!): just run around your house in a bathing suit all day…and maybe a squirt gun or three. Yep. I’m full of excellent ideas today!

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