Success isn’t an objective term. It only exists in our head. To make peace with an idea that can seem very elusive, we must define it on our terms.
Dan Kim, a programmer at 37 signals, wrote yesterday about a quote from Marissa Mayer that infuriated him – “My husband [the venture capital investor Zachary Bogue] runs a co-working office in San Francisco…And if you go in on a Saturday afternoon, I can tell you which startups will succeed, without even knowing what they do. Being there on the weekend is a huge indicator of success, mostly because these companies just don’t happen. They happen because of really hard work.”
Dan picks apart that comment – I can see where his frustration comes from. As a father who cares about spending time with his kids, he hates the “work on weekends to be successful” message.
We tend to be hugely biased by our own experiences. So, I can also see where Marissa Mayer comes from and what her biases are. I don’t agree with them but, hey, what do I know?
Dan, however, goes on to end the post by saying something that rings very true. He points out that Marissa Mayer is very successful by most objective business measures – finances, title, industry stature, etc. He then goes on to acknowledge that, while he will never be a success in Marissa’s world, he’s never been so happy to be a failure.
It is a realization we must all come to at some point in our lives. It is often the difference between a life that is happy and one that is filled with insecurity and discontent.
That isn’t to say we shouldn’t pursue things that matter to us. Happiness and success lie in the pursuit. It is just a reminder to not spend time chasing someone else’s dream. Let ours be a life well lived… on our terms.