What the F**k is Success Anyway?

Mike Patterson
4 min readJun 8, 2018

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I’ve been writing on Medium for a couple years now and of course reading all kinds of articles written by fellow authors along the way. I’m not sure if it’s because of my reading patterns or because of the amount of articles on the topic, but the subject matter of “success” is plastered all over this platform.

There are articles like “The 9 Morning Habits of Successful People” or “How Successful People Deal with Rejection”.

And don’t get me wrong, a lot of these articles have very good information, changes of mindset and behavioral patterns to share.

But there’s one very minor detail that all of these articles exclude:
What the f**k is your definition of success?

The intoxicating drug of success may be more pervasive in our culture than drinking alcohol or smoking a little weed. We get high on the concept of success but to most of us, it’s a just a concept… that’s “out there”… something in the future that we’re reaching for, but let me tell you something:

Success is not OUT THERE — success is simply being true to your unique individuality.

And to find your own success, you most truly look deeply inside. This is not some new age bullshit. You want to be successful? Be who you are. Period. End of story. Be who you are and you ARE successful.

Of course I’m writing this because it’s a topic that interests me greatly and gets under my skin. I’ve had successes in my life, but overall I don’t think I’d consider myself someone who’s had outward success — I’m 48, single, don’t have any kids, and am certainly not independently wealthy. According to the environment I grew up in and according to our current American standards, I am not successful.

But that’s not how I define success.

I recently watched an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher where Charlamagne Tha God was a guest. Bill was admiring a notion of Charlamagne’s which he refers to as “F**k your dreams”. The concept wasn’t about NOT having dreams, rather, it was the notion of looking at your dreams very, very closely and making sure that they are actually YOUR dreams.

Many of us have dreams that are not ours, they’re the dreams of our parents, or our partners, or our society, so they are not actually OUR dreams…so f**k your dreams. Make sure they’re YOURS.

And make sure the success that you are striving for is actually YOUR definition of success - not your Mom’s, not your Dad’s, not your brother’s or your sister’s, your neighbor’s, your influential uncle’s, your high school math teacher’s or your partner’s.

YOURS.

What does success mean to you? Only you can define it.

Maybe it’s showing up for your volunteer gig every week. Maybe it’s being able to get out of bed every morning. Maybe it’s getting to the top 1% in your sales force, or maybe it’s simply being more present with your partner and listening to them when you’re in a heated argument and not saying a word.

Getting to your definition of success will most likely mean stripping away layer after layer of identities that have been put upon you.

You may have to do very scary things like being totally alone, or being very, very quiet for long periods of time, or not actually doing much for even longer periods of time.

Getting to who you are may even involve very large doses or listening, slowing down or even stopping so that your identity can catch up to you and speak through all the static to whisper in your ear the sweet nothings of your true being.

Hearing who you are will most likely entail doing things that are completely antithetical to your being. They will probably be a little crazy… or a LOT crazy.

And they will almost always involve risk, going against the grain, slowing down, pausing and listening for a new voice.

Try it.

Why do you think people come back from meditation retreats as changed, transformed people? It’s not rocket science, take a guess…

Shoot for success, but make sure it’s YOUR success, not now, and not ever anyone else’s definition.

A parting word from Dicky Fox (the YouTube channel owner spelled Jerry Maguire wrong…not me…success!)

If my writing speaks to you please click 👏 below and to share it with your friends or anyone else you think may find it helpful. Thanks! M

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Mike Patterson

Part writer, part philosopher, part businessperson, mostly clueless. Lover of surfing, meditation, yoga, cooking, and other journeys of the heart.