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#42: There is no such thing as “success”

#42: There is no such thing as “success”

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Welcome to another Mindf*ck Monday, the only weekly newsletter that promises not to date your sister, then does it anyway. Each week, I send you three potentially life-changing ideas to help you be a slightly less awful human being. This week, we’re talking about: 1) definitions of success, 2) the best and worst parts of ourselves, and 3) I’m hiring (yet again). 

Let’s get into it. 

1. Arbitrary definitions of “success” – When you’re an author in the self-help genre, there are certain questions you get again and again regardless of how interesting or important you believe them to actually be. For example, if I had a dollar for every time a heartbroken twenty-something emailed me asking me how to convince their ex to love them again, well, I could pay to put a note on every billboard in the country saying, “One day you’re going to be glad they left. Get the fuck over it and move on.” 

There are many other questions like this — questions that come up time and time again and I just kind of roll my eyes and think to myself, “People, these aren’t the right questions!” 

One of those questions is the question about how to be successful. This question exists under a number of guises — how to be popular, how to reach the top of a field, how to start a business, how to work so hard that people notice you, etc. 

And look, there’s nothing wrong with ambition and having some goals. Ambition is fun and certainly better than the alternative. But what concerns me about a lot of these questions is that there is an underlying assumption that “success = X”, where X can be money, fame, prestige, status, power, etc., and that the person has not thought through that assumption. Sometimes they don’t even seem aware of it. 

I often write articles so that I can answer a whole swath of questions I receive in one fell swoop. In this case, I wrote a really fucking snarky article about how to be “wildly, insanely, spectacularly successful” with lots of sarcasm and comments about dick casseroles. It’s a fun one. But it also makes some serious points about examining how we define success, our need to overcompensate for past failures and how many of our ideas of success are not even our own. Check it out:

Read: 5 Steps to Becoming Insanely, Spectacularly Successful… or Whatever

2. The Best and Worst of Someone – Many years ago, I wrote an article about my experiences living abroad where I said that, “The best part of a country is also the worst part of a country.” At the time, this was a simple observation about cultural differences and their effects on day-to-day life in various places. 

But that phrase, “the best part is usually also the worst part,” has stuck with me over the years and I find myself using it in conversation more and more. It seems to explain so much! And not just in reference to countries in cultures, but also in reference to people. 

The best part about someone is usually also the worst part of someone. The traits that give us our talent and advantages also seem to be the same traits that precipitate our failures and determine our weaknesses. The ways in which we stand out positively usually have some relationship with the ways in which we stand out negatively. 

I decided to explore this idea in a little bit more depth in another article and how it relates to self-acceptance, acceptance of others and even coming to terms with where we live. 

Read: The Best and Worst of Someone

3. I’m Hiring (yet again) – For the third time in the past year, I am hiring. This time I’m hiring for two positions: a content/research assistant (full-time) and a designer (freelance/part-time). These positions are both remote. 

Please check out the job listings, read the details, and if you or anyone you know is a good fit, please shoot me an application. The deadline for applications is the end of this week (Friday, August 7th). 

Until next week,
Mark