Sunday, September 21, 2014

Your Path to Success

We’ve all seen these television and movie scenes: someone is running for their lives, usually through uncertain terrain filled with humps and dips, trees, and vines that grasp and trap the victim.  Each and every time, the poor person running running running looks back every 10 or fifteen steps to see if the villain is gaining on them. 

2014 Patricia Scarborough 6x8 oil  Success? Yes! A substantial amount was raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation when this little jewel was auctioned off.

Man, if someone were chasing me, my face would be pointing toward the distant horizon, followed by my pumping fists and pounding feet. No way would I risk bouncing off a tree because I was looking around for someone else while charging forward at 35 mph. (Okay, maybe 10 – no, 5 mph. I’m out of shape.)

Lately I have been part of a running discussion about the idea of success. (Hang with me, this will all come together in a minute.) I call it a discussion, although at times it sounds like something else; carping, grousing, questioning our choices, wondering when success will land upon us like fairy dust or white bits in a snow globe.

It’s an issue with artists because success is a very nebulous goal.  What are we talking about here? Is success defined as popularity? Sales? Juried Exhibitions? Accolades? We want it, but how do we know when we’ve got it? And how to keep it once we think we've got it?

Handsome Husband offered a song he’d heard recently as I bounced success ideas off him. “The Climb”, written by Jessi Alexander, is a 2009 sung by Miley Cyrus, back in the day when she wore clothes. Poke this link to read the lyrics .

2014 Patricia Scarborough 6x8 oil  Sand Hills Hike

According to the song, success is about the effort, desire, keeping at whatever it is you’re doing regardless of what others think. Success is doing what your heart needs you to do. It is not running pell-mell in any direction while looking backwards to see if anyone is paying attention.

More definitions from fully clothed grownups: Winston Churchill, a grown up if there ever was one: "Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."

Stephen Covey: "If you carefully consider what you want to be said of you in the funeral experience, "you will find your definition of success."  

So what, dear ones, have we accomplished here?  HH just this very moment said, “I look back at what I was doing a year ago, and often I wonder what the heck I was doing.  And that’s a good thing. I can see how much I’ve grown and learned.” He deserves his own Wikipedia page.

Friends, in this humble artist’s opinion, success is not about achieving a sale, a deal, gallery representation or award. It’s about negotiating the path set before us. Walking, running, hopping or skipping that path without worrying about who is behind us, beside us or ahead of us. Which means there is no "getting", since being on a path implies movement, a journey or an evolution. 

2014 Patricia Scarborough  Success? Not quite yet, but I'm close.
There is no arrival. Success is keeping our faces forward to see where we’re headed, and then moving in that direction.