I’ve watched success from afar as I’ve pursued a career that exemplifies longevity. Still, I’ve seen an author’s first or second book take off like a firecracker, and I’ve secretly (okay, not so secretly) been frustrated. In those times, I remind myself afresh of God’s glorious sovereignty, that He lifts up some, takes away from others, and gives everyone a unique path.
But I’ve found a common ground between folks who seem to strike it hot the first time out of the gate and those who toil for years without such breakthrough. It’s this: faithfulness in little things.
Whether you find immediate success or face discouragement right now as you wonder why success hasn’t come your way, you still have to do unnoticed things, if you want to experience the greater success, longevity.
We’ve seen one-hit wonders in the music world. They’ve made their one popular song, then languish for twenty years, eventually playing that same song in county fairs across the nation. They live in the past. Reminds me of the film, About a Boy, where Hugh Grant’s character is haunted by his popular Christmas song so much so that he’s forgotten how to live.
God has a better plan. And I believe everyone can experience a new kind of longevity-related success by asking 3 questions.
- Why am I doing this? When you get at the central question of why, you uncover that pesky thing called motivation. When I see others’ success and wonder about my own, or I encounter obstacles, inevitably, I have to ask why I’m doing this. My answer? God told me to. And if God told me to, then my job is simple obedience, plain, undecorated.
- What am I doing? Sometimes we need to re-evaluate what exactly we’re doing to achieve our goals. Chances are, in our quest for success, we grab at what some one-hit-wonders have done, believing in the formula rather than the process God has us on. Remember this: You are unique, and your pathway is unique. Someone else’s surefire formula may not garner the same success. Your “what” must fit you, and it must serve your overall mission statement. If it doesn’t, re-evaluate. A great resource for those of you evaluating your “whats” is Platform by Michael Hyatt. It gives you practical things you can do to grow your business, in a menu-like way. It’s a great tool to evaluate what you’re doing that’s effective, what you could be doing, and what may not be working.
- How am I doing it? Whether you’re a one-hit-wonder or you feel you’re slogging your way through, the how question gets at what contributes to burnout. Some of us are performing tasks in an unsustainable way. We are of no use to our career, our families, and our friends if we work like crazy and never rest. Remember, you’re in this career for the long haul. Treat that path with respect, and be kind to yourself. You cannot do it all. Nor should you.
How about you? What has helped you when you’re discouraged in your work? How have you found lasting success? And how have you dealt with others who seem to succeed quicker?