Thursday, July 19, 2012

What is Success?

Guest bloggers: Hank Boland and Jess Hutchinson
Last week’s blog posed the question ‘Why do you keep doing this?’ None of us was too shocked that the responses about pursuing and continuing a life in the arts were personal and subjective. There might be a few of us that pursue arts because it is a family business, and some that are in the mix because of the security, but mostly it seems that people are driven by their continued passion. (You can still throw your two cents in to that discussion, or perhaps like many of us, you need to keep your two cents because that money goes towards rent).

Those responses got us talking around The League about how we measure personal and individual success. Institution and organizations have a multitude of metrics to measure their successes and shortfalls, but how do you, the individual artist, administrator, theatre maker, measure your own success?

What convinces you that you can chalk one up in the win column?
Is it how you make your money?
How you spend your time?
How you live?

When it seems like the fates are conspiring against you and even strangers appear to relish in your defeat, what do you keep in the trophy case of your soul that gets you out of bed in the morning?


Lacy said...

Ah! I kept a whole blog on this: a year of dubious success. What I learned was:
Success is being a happy person.
That statement has a lot in it, sure, but that year of obsessing over success taught me that it wasn't in getting cast in a fancy show, or making X amount of dollars, or getting good reviews. Fancy shows can suck. The best things I do are sometimes for free. And reviews... don't get me started.
So what makes me, Lacy, happy? Challenging myself, earning the respect of those I respect, being able to take pride in my work. I think we all agree that those are all attained by making a good play.

Here's the blog, by the way. it's dead now but I declare it Successful:

Jess Hutchinson said...

That a great metric, Lacy. I really love this distillation from your last post on that blog:

"Success is not always the same thing as happiness.

Happiness is always success.

Everything else is just worrying about what people will think of you. And you could always use more money."

You totally rule, lady.

Jenny Seidelman said...

I tend to break down "success" into personal and professional. Personal is just being a happy person, feeling fulfilled.

I define my professional success in a more goal-oriented way. If, as a playwright, I've had at least one play reading or production each year, I feel successful. I haven't given up, more people have seen my work, I've expanded my network of artistic collaborators and I've added to my experience and resume.

As time goes on and getting readings/productions (hopefully) becomes more frequent, I may amp up my goal But that's where I am right now.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Your point about separating the personal measurements and the professional measurements of success is a great reminder. Often we’re pouring our entire selves into our profession, and letting that sway our measurement of our day-by-day ‘personal’ success.

You added the notion of ‘I haven’t given up’. I think that weighs heavy on a lot of us, too. We give a lot of power to the notion that walking away, or stopping, is equivalent to a failure. It might be that balance that you mentioned: If you’re happy personally, then professionally you’re still willing to stay in the profession. Why do people think it is different from any other mid-career professional change?