This post is part of Project: Inception, written ~8 years ago. It has been untouched from its original, pseudonymous, form. It is also part of the larger “farewell” tour and countdown as I turn-off this blog and head to the metaverse where I will live out the rest of my wonderful days. I hope to see you there!
Success is a hard thing to understand, much less quantify or qualify. I have dealt with this challenge my entire life as I’ve seen what the world considers “success” to be and I wholeheartedly reject that notion with every fiber of my being. It’s not about being an opponent of those sentiments but rather the fact that I simply do not get it. I have told countless people that I simply do not understand those motivations and how one adopts those.
Fame, money, power, prestige – all those things surface so often in my community of high tech, venture capital, and startup wizardry that it makes my head spin. It’s as if it’s a requisite for success that you have an incredible ego to match your carnal ambition, drive, resolve, and cut-throat (yet brilliant…?) decision-making. It’s how you “win” people over as well as get them to open their checkbooks and then win customers with a ton of badass pomp and circumstance. It’s not something that I even know how to do even if I was interested in that to begin with!
This becomes even more increasingly difficult when I’m told that I have been successful and that I’m doing a lot of things “right” when it comes to my own career and work. First-off, I’m not even sure what “career” means in my context because if I ever had one the track record is pretty shitty. Secondly, since I’m not interested in those classical signals of success and those have never been the primary motives for doing what I do the wires get ultimately crossed and I stand there puzzled. Most of the time I respond with something to the affect of:
Sure, but there’s more work to be done. See this? See that? See what’s broken here? I’m not happy at all with the current state. More work, more work…
And it’s true – there’s always something to improve, work on, or make better. There’s always another project that’s waiting in the wings to be attempted and built. There’s always another idea to pursue, another avenue to entertain, and another dream to explore. I can’t stop thinking about what’s next – this is my delight and my curse perhaps, but I just don’t give a shit about “celebrating the wins” or whatever they are because the real win is being able to move to the next project and kick ass.
And I don’t understand why more people don’t see this obvious and true consequence – that the honest and best reward is the ability to keep on doing great work, creating value, and pushing the boulder down the road a bit more. I love what I do. I obsess over it. All this noise about celebration and success just get in the way. Besides, it’s so rare that it’s nothing you can “lock in” as a process or plan for so it’s actually rather disruptive in a way.
And I hate being interrupted.