A Treatise on Success


I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve never heard of anybody becoming a millionaire doing the job they went to school for. (Even specialty doctors, with their crazy salaries, end up with so much debt from school that they’re not making profit until their 40s. No wonder some doctors never want to retire!)

I have, however, noticed some things that famously successful people have in common.

They’re prepared to take risks.

Ever heard of a dude named Bill Gates? Sure, you have now. Back in 1975, when he was forming his first partnership with a company to write computer code for them? No, you didn’t have a clue who this guy was. But by November of the next year, Microsoft was a trademarked name, and he dropped out of Harvard to make his company work. Keep in mind, dude had graduated high school in 1973 – were you ready to start your own company in a field nobody’s ever heard of before 3 years out of high school?

And now, he’s the richest dude in the U.S., if not the world.

They seize opportunities.

Steve Jobs had a fledgling company called Apple Computers in the early 1980s. He, of course, was looking for ways to make his product stand out from IBM and the other PC clones on the market, when he hears about a little gadget invented by Xerox called a “mouse”, and the Graphical User Interface that went with it.

By 1984, the Macintosh was born, paving the way for other GUIs to come (Windows, most notably).

They don’t let setbacks stop them.

Warren Buffet (the billionaire stockbroker) has made bad calls and lost money (sometimes millions) on investments. He wanted to work for Benjamin Graham (a rather successful stockbroker himself) right out of college, but Graham wouldn’t hire him at first. (After demonstrating his prowess, he was hired at Graham’s firm a few years later.)

Steve Jobs was famously fired from Apple in 1985. What did he do after that? Oh, just went on to found the Pixar movie studio, get re-hired back at Apple and make them approximately all the money in the world, and invent half the electronic devices we know of today (including the iPad I’m writing this on).

Bill Gates and Microsoft were the subject of anti-trust litigation in 1998, in the course of which, the judge ruled against Microsoft. Gates went on to release the first video game console by an American company since Atari stopped selling the Jaguar.

All of these traits make sense when you think about them. You can’t start a new business (which is what most successful people do) without taking risks. Those risks are more likely to pay off if you are prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. And no successful anything would ever happen if everyone stopped at the first sign of failure – do babies stop trying to walk the first time they fall down? Do people completely give up on dating the very first time somebody rejects their offer of dinner and a movie?

Failure will always happen on the way to success – it gives you time to practice. There will always be tons of reasons why a business venture, or a writing career, or any number of things didn’t work out – but the easiest one to fix is the “I gave up on it” reason.

Just a few thoughts of encouragement for y’all. Until next time.

Episode IV: A New … Chapter


After 7 years, I’m finally free.

I never have to answer the question “Where are the razors?” ever again.  I no longer have to explain to a patient why their medication wasn’t covered by their insurance.  If somebody doesn’t get off their cell phone at the pharmacy counter, I can now tell them to hang up or get out of the way without worrying about losing my job.

It’s hard to lose a job you’ve already quit, you see.

Working in a retail setting was never something I set out to do long-term.  This job was meant to be a stop-gap until I could figure out what to do with my life.

Then life happened anyway, while I worried and fretted about bills to pay, getting insurance for my new husband, figuring out how I was supposed to tie my shoes while 8 months pregnant so I could get to work in the morning.

A new life reminded me of everything I was missing with her first whimpered cry, as I laid on the operating table, breathless.  Holding her, feeding her, watching her fall asleep in my arms … I was in awe, and in love.  Perspective is a rare gift, and I felt it in all its glory those first days in the hospital.

So when I told my former retail employer that I needed to leave at a certain time to pick my precious gift up from daycare on a daily basis, and they informed me that I could no longer be a full-time employee due to my schedule requirements (if I became a part-time employee, they would need to be repaid for the vacation time I took for maternity leave), I politely informed them that I had more important things to do with my time than to work for free.

I don’t know where my life is headed now, but I know where it isn’t: stuck in a dead-end job with no prospect of advancement.  The freedom is exhilarating, and sometimes terrifying.  How do I define myself now?  Am I a stay-at-home mom?  Why must my definition of “self” center around my job/career?

All these questions will be answered in time, I tell myself.  One thing I don’t need to question: the two loves of my life will always be with me, no matter where I go or what I end up doing.

That’s the greatest freedom of all.