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Success is measured differently by each of us and often we have different views of our own success within our own lifetimes. The standard of success might be the amount of money we have, what level we've achieved in our careers, who knows us or whom we know, or any other number of factors. The view that others have about your success might be very different from how you view your own success. There is no one standard that defines personal success.
Naomi Ruth Eisenberg who was a vocalist and violinist with Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, one of the finest bands to come out of the early 70's San Francisco music scene, wrote the song "Success" which appears on the final album of this particular incarnation of the band. Last Train to Hicksville...The Home of the Happy Feet is now considered an album classic from a band that could have offered so much more if they had continued. Still, Hicks went on to form the Acoustic Warriors and perform as a solo artist. Eisenberg continued playing with other acts including her own band Naomi Vice and occasional reunions with the Hot Licks.
The song "Success" pretty well sums up the feelings of many in the entertainment industry as well as any other field of endeavor. Success is always playing with our minds. Enjoy the song and let me tell you my own thoughts pertaining to success as it relates to my own life.
Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks "Success" (1973)
When I was a kid I had dreams of what I wanted to be someday. Those dreams changed at times and at times those dreams were pretty big. Back then my hazy concept of success had more to do with recognition from others than any tangible understanding of money or other personal assets. For me at that stage of life things like a house, a family, and everything that might surround me one day were merely a given that somehow I accepted would be there in some way, but nothing specific or definable.
In junior high school a class social studies project had us looking to the future to research five potential fields that we might like to pursue as an adult. My chosen fields--entertainment, music, writing, photography, and teaching--were each achieved by me to some degree in my life. This is a certain success that I can claim though the individual success I achieved in each realm might not be especially significant.
Millions pursue a successful career in entertainment while relatively few make much of a mark in the field. Just having the opportunity to have worked and actually made a living in entertainment is my claim to having achieved a certain success. I have little to claim as far as fame or money, but my experiences have been a wealth deposited to my bank of life memories. I wanted to do something that many people dream about and I actually did it and made money. To me that was a success.
Success as an all-encompassing term that defines me is not something to which I can lay claim. However the cumulative small successes in my life have brought me some degree of satisfaction. I feel like I'm still on that proverbial road to success and I still have a long way that I can go with time now running out. Not knowing when my time will run out puts me at some disadvantage though still I would have to ask one question: If I knew the end of my story would I be more likely to achieve the success of which I dream?
Let's face it, success can sometimes be pretty arbitrary and it's never guaranteed for most of us. Many years ago I decided that while I could aspire and admire the success of others, my own success was what I would recognize it to be. Over the years I've been pleased with a good many of my career accomplishments. Maybe they were not especially impressive to many when compared to the success of others, but my success worked for me and most importantly I've never just stopped to bask in the sunshine of what I've achieved. There's more to come I hope and I hope my dreams will not be thwarted too soon.
As the song "Success" asks, "Will they remember me or leave me far behind?" Riches and fame are nice, but what will my legacy be? And even if I am remembered by a few if only just for a short time, I don't think that memory matters as much as the life I lived while I was living it. Success is mostly a personal measurement and that's what is most meaningful to any of us. I've enjoyed my life and want to continue to enjoy many more years of accomplishment. What others think is important--I won't dismiss that fact. But what I think about my life, what I've felt while living it, defines success on a personal level.
I hope that I leave something worthwhile behind me. I hope that I have contributed some modicum of positivity to the world. I hope I have enjoyed my life once I have left it. Hope--perhaps that's the most important thing we have. A life without hope must be a dark place to be.
What have been some of the successes to which you can lay claim in your life? Do you continue to plan on future successes in your life? Is the pursuit of success ultimately meaningless?
Robin has been doing the Soundtrack of my Life posts on her blog Your Daily Dose. I had done a few of my own "life soundtracks" on my Tossing It Out blog as well as the song series (starting at this post) I did for my 2014 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge on Wrote By Rote. Be sure to visit and follow Your Daily Dose for more Life Soundtrack info. I hope you'll also visit my current Battle of the Bands to vote on your favorite version of the Dan Hicks song "I Scare Myself".