Let’s Talk About Sex – Uh, No Sorry I Mean Success
I keep trying to avoid it, but my journey through the failures and let downs in my life would be incomplete without further discussing success. I don’t want to get overly philosophical about success here. Most of us know about the founding blokes of philosophy, and if I focus too much on that stuff I’ll start wondering if I even exist. At that point of confusion I’m forced to revert to my childhood and the only things that makes sense in this world anymore are (drum roll) Ninja Turtles, Pez, and burning holes in carpets. But what does it really mean to be successful?
Wouldn’t it be incredibly interesting to take a survey of the most successful creative people in the world today? Take the most famous of famous actors, musicians, writers, directors, and artists and ask them honestly to answer if they would have stuck with their profession had they never made it.
What if Tom Hanks was only ever in car insurance commercials and didn’t have his big break? Would he have stuck with acting for the rest of his life? What if these successful folks never made it, and they had to scrape by their entire life? Would they have continued on that path all for the love of the art? Or, would they have had to buck up and go get a “real job.” Is success simply a matter of money to this group of people? How do they really feel about the praise and attention they receive?
The “Man” And The Movie
To kick off this party of my personal definition of success, let me tell you a story about a man and the movie that sucked the manhood out of him. It sucked faster than…. something that sucks things really fast. The man: me. The movie: I’ll take to the grave what it was. I mean, this is it. It’s that one secret I’ll never tell, not even my wife. Seems stupid, and it is, but there’s a deep part of my psyche and overall man-y-ness that was greatly affected by this seemingly innocent movie. My wife was even in the room at the time, but luckily she was asleep and remained in a deep slumber for the duration of this sudden event.
I’m guessing this film was inspiring to a lot of people. My wife had watched it while I was out of town, loved it, and wanted me to see it. The movie tells the story of how two different people, in completely different circumstances, were connected in many ways, and both ended up being wildly successful. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this film, but it was produced well and I laughed out loud several times. Good enough for me. But, as the film ended I instantaneously found myself sobbing like a crazed wailing little kitty in heat.
Really dude? What in the name of all high and holy chili cheese steaks is going on here?! I wanted to punch myself in the face. Keep in mind, this is the not the kind of movie that brings its viewers to tears. The end was happy, satisfying, and motivational. Positively the only two people in the history of this movie found crying at the end was me, and a pregnant woman overdue by 2 weeks. Her tears weren’t even related to the film. My wife didn’t cry when she watched it, and she was pregnant at the time, so I know there’s a serious issue here.
If anyone wants to venture a guess on what movie this was, hit me up and I’ll still never tell you. Right or wrong, I feel like any sense of manhood I strive to hold on to will twinkle away if I come out with the truth. Even just talking about it is making me use words like “twinkle.” Ok, back to me sitting there in a cry face mess wishing I could hit myself.
It didn’t take me long to realize where this sudden release of emotions came from. I had a huge wave of disappointment slam over me. I was drowning in failure. It was like at that moment the universe was telling me through this movie that I am never going to make it. I am not going to be the person who has an inspiring success story. I am never going to be a real writer, filmmaker, or a musician. I will not be a successful creative person. Done. Give up.
What is a person to do in a moment like this? There are a lot of messages out there about just doing what you love, screw the consequences. I spoke of such messages in my opening statements of the I Will Thrive Project. These messages are cool and everything, but in a moment like this one, these messages provide no guidance or solace, they do however piss me off.
Lost in failure I refuse to listen to a dissertation about how we’re all going to die anyway so you might as well do what you love. Or, if you can fail at what you don’t love, why not take the chance? I’d been failing at what I wanted to do already. I’ve tried to take the chance, over and over again. So, friendly smart rich successful people putting these messages out there, how long can you go on failing?
While I get that some of these “do what you love” preachers came from humble backgrounds, what are the odds that I end up as lucky and successful as them? At some point don’t you just have to give in, embrace the failure you are, and as much as possible demonstrate your overall failure face in public? Almost like a scarlet letter, but for being a loser. Maybe just giving in and not having to be rejected all the time would easier anyway.
Do I sound like an irrational teenager in a dramatic “woe is me” scene? Yes Wes, yes you do. Hey, I couldn’t control myself in that moment. This wave of disappointment came out of nowhere. I wasn’t thinking about my creative life and failures at all while I was watching this movie. It hit hard, and it was super off-putting! Maybe the first time in my life I didn’t feel fully in control of my emotions. Once it subsided, I figured I had better evaluate what this was all about. What am I really hoping for? And yes, what does it mean to be successful to me?
How About Some Honestly For A Change
Counseling sessions are as good as useless if the client isn’t honest. So here I go, the bottom line, me being honest. Loosely defined success to me is just being able to make enough money to live off of being a musician, writer, filmmaker, aka creating art. Living off of a passion sounds like a good definition to me. But, this was not the whole picture to my belief on success.
That fun little insecure poor and unconnected boy inside of me found his way to to surface more than I would like to admit. He doesn’t want to be any of things that have made him feel awful about himself. He wants more than just to make money at something he loves. He wants it all. He wants praise, he wants to be connected, he wants lots of people to love the crap that he does. He doesn’t want to be little-fatty-poor-boy. He wants to be rich- fit-connected-awesome-sauce-boy. He wants accolades and people telling him he’s bloody amazing. He is as vain as they come. Timmy, it’s really stinging now. Therapy sucks.
Well ok, now what? I had just discovered that my hidden real definition of success is quite self-absorbed and ridiculous. This was real full fledged self-discovery. While this realization couldn’t extinguish the call to work on creative projects and have that be my forever, I had better rethink my life if one of my greatest motivators was just to receive praise. What a joke. Could this have been one of the key reasons my work was a little off? Was I doing art for the praise of others instead of just doing it because I love it?
I don’t know, but I know for sure I don’t want to be that guy. Maybe if I picture myself kicking the crap out of my little fat boy insecure self? I’ll tell him life is bigger than be successful to receive attention from others. You should stay down in the bat cave and leave me freaking alone. Maybe real success should be about my ability to help others, not just getting them to think I’m awesome.
Yes, That Service Thing You’ve Heard About
If any major cog in the machine of our motives is solely based on the need for likes, followers, or praise, I promise that path ends in hallow pain. Somewhere deep inside of us, somehow, we all know a life lived to help and serve others will be far richer than the greedy counterpart. Success is a crazy personal notion, and it is up to each of us to map out our own definition of success. If I can give one word of advice, don’t be an idiot like me and have a sudden break down at the end of a movie you didn’t want to watch in the first place force you to be honest with yourself.
After this self-discovery I decided to make my own personal power pact (P.P.P.) to do music, writing, filmmaking, and anything else creative simply because I love it. If little boy Wes would stop being so selfish, he would see that he already has everything anyone could ever dream of to be truly “successful” anyway. I have a loving wife, wonderful kids, friends, family, and countless other blessings. Pull out the easy cheese, because I am laying it on thick – but I really already had the things that truly matter.
So I needed to create a new dude. This new guy will truly not give a rip about what other people think. I told myself for years I was already that person. In fact, inside of this very project it was stated that I didn’t care about becoming famous. That was a flat out lie from Lord Liar Pants from the Almoster parish in Get a Clue, England. Fat boy Wes wanted it.
Today, I can honestly report I have become a new a better version of myself. That P.P.P. I made years ago was only one small step in the right direction. Getting laid off from the pandemic and creating I Will Thrive has been the final nudge in the right direction. Living life and working with the right motives is great, but I was still telling myself lies until this year. The “I Will Thrive” motto and everything that comes with it is the fuel that finally ignited real change. That’s why I’m so excited about “I Will Thrive” as daily mantra. I can’t believe what it is has done for me, and I know it can help others.
It’s Ok To Want It All
What’s interesting is I still want it all, and that’s ok. People, it’s ok to want it all. This is not greed or a desire for praise any longer. I want it all, but now I have the right mindset and the right motives. That motive is the desire to create a life for my children that I never had. It’s the call to make a difference in the world. It’s the excitement of bringing a little joy and purpose to people’s lives.
Here’s the kicker, and this is the major mindset change, I don’t just want it all, I will have it all. I will get there and I don’t care what it takes. What’s crazy is I’ve have already been more successful in terms of impact and finances from my creative work in the past couple months than in my entire life. It’s happening, and if it can happen for me, believe me friends – I know it can for you too.
Be honest with yourself about some of the internal parts of your personality that don’t match up to who you really want to be. It might take a weird random moment to shake it out of you, like a movie you will never tell anyone about, or a kid telling you that you’re a jerk , but in the end we will all be the better for it.
Sure, I’m older than I’d like. But so what, not much I can do about that except have a good outlook and laugh. I’m fatter than I’d like, and of course I can do something about that. I’m walking at a tread desk right thinking about donuts, but I’m not eating um! My bank account is nowhere near where it needs to be. So, time to get to work and freaking fill it up. I Will Thrive ya’ll! I will be successful. Join me! We can do the things we love and produce real, raw, and honest work without any barriers.
Side note: You can also perform a self-therapy session in the form of a blog/podcast/video series about all your letdowns, failures, and the businesses your building to try and help you sort things out. I know a guy who did just that. He’s kind of a loon, but I think it’s helping him become a better person.
VIDEO version of this episode HERE
PODCAST version of this episode HERE