It’s Not About Success

i climbed that

Some time ago my family was rock climbing just south of the border. We were having a great time when a teenager and his girlfriend stopped to watch and make conversation. As they stood and watched my eleven year old attack the rock face the guy began commenting loudly as to his performance, skill and faults. He started critiquing everything; criticizing my son while at the same time bragging about his rock climbing prowess. He faulted my kid for using a harness and rope (only beginners needed the security of a rope). He explained in great detail how my child was taking the easy route whereas he would only go up the hardest possible course. This went on for some time until I turned to him and said, “I hear you doing a lot of talking, how about doing some climbing?”

Suddenly I was barraged with a steady stream of excuses. He didn’t want to get sweaty; he hadn’t brought the proper footwear; he wasn’t sure he had the time; blah, blah, blah. Being the compassionate, mature person that I am, I turned to him and said, “What’s the matter, you chicken?”

You can look like the greatest climber in the world, own the best equipment, have an expert harness and shoes, but until you get your butt off the ground you’re just a spectator.

Many people have that approach to life. Sam Malone (from the sitcom Cheers) summed it up for us when he said, “It’s not whether you win or lose, its how good you look while you’re doing it.” It’s all about appearances. It’s all about looking good, smelling good and acting good.

There is something wrong with that, and it’s bigger than just an issue with climbing rocks. In counseling I see it all the time. People want the appearance of change but are not willing to pay the price for it. They are still looking for the magic pill.

Let me be honest with you. If you have complex emotional or psychological issues you cannot be fixed in eight sessions. You should be able to see marked improvement but you have taken years, even decades, to get where you are. One session of EFT or EMDR is probably not going to sort you out. The best cognitive behavioural therapist in the world can’t “fix” you in a few sessions. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something. Seriously. Real growth is built on things like perseverance and failure. That’s right, failure. Ask anyone who has battled a serious addiction problem. Most of us quit dozens of times before it took. If that wasn’t your experience than count your blessings.

Overcoming depression, anxiety, trauma, etc. is usually built on a series of failures. You tried to get up early today and you couldn’t do it. You try again tomorrow and probably screw that up to. So you keep trying.

It’s not about success, it’s about momentum. When you are dealing with depression or anxiety, ptsd or bpd, it’s not all about one good day, or one great win. Good things come to those who keep showing up.

Thomas Edison and his early phonograph. Croppe...

History is replete with illustrations to prove this. It’s Edison’s anecdotal story of saying that he found hundreds of ways to not make a lightbulb. It’s the single parent who gets up one more day and does what is right. It’s the student that, in spite of hardship and pain, keeps showing up to school. Momentum is that person who fights and fails and gets up one more time. It’s that definition of success which says, “falls down seven times, gets up eight.

As the saying goes – ninety percent of success in life is just showing up.

9 thoughts on “It’s Not About Success

  1. This post resonates with me so strongly that I have to reblog it! Attitude, after all, is truly one of the keys to having joy in your life. And as the most joyous people on earth will tell you, they have bad days and tough times too…..but they get up the next morning and start all over again brand new. Great blog. Great post. Keep on going.

  2. That is astounding. As someone who’s struggled with depression I often forget that it was all the times I decided to “just keep swimming”, to quote a beloved fish. I suppose I should take this approach into many different areas of my life and not just the depression that I’ve overcome.

    Your posts, your challenges, and your blatant honesty astound me. Thank you Scott!

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