In Others’ Words: Success

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” ~Maya Angelou, poet & novelist

I’m certain we could debate the “proper” definition of success. But let’s not. I like Maya Angelou’s definition.

I remember the specific day when I realized that, yes, I liked myself. It was a hard-fought battle, I assure you, coming to terms with who I was and finally deciding to embrace the truth of me.

I also remember where I was the day I realized I was living my dream. I was sitting in a writer’s conference, listening to a speaker challenge all of us attendees to “Go! Dare to live your dreams!” My eyes filled with tears as I realized I was doing just that.

Liking how I do “it.” Hhhhhm. Yes, I would say most days I like how I write. Not all day long, necessarily. But most days. I don’t aim for perfection because I realized a long time ago Perfect is a ridiculous  goal.

In some ways, I will always want to be a better writer, a better woman, a better wife, a better mom, a better friend. But defining “success” without the confines of “Am I failing?” and “Am I achieving enough?” provides so much breathing space.  I can enjoy my successes … and aim for more success.

In Your Words: What parts of Maya Angelou’s definition of success have you achieved? What parts are you still aiming for? Or do you have a preferred definition of success?

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32 Comments

  1. February 15, 2012, 1:11 am   /  Reply

    I like you, too, Beth, and think you’re pretty awesome!

    I like myself more the older and wiser I get. I like what I do, which is write. I can use work on the liking how I do what I do, though. I duke it out with doubt at times and have to rein in my perfectionism. Not fun.

    • Beth Vogt
      February 15, 2012, 6:17 am   /  Reply

      :O)
      That was a nice first post to read this morning, Keli!
      I wrestle with doubt too at times — but I’m thankful it comes and goes — rather than being a permanent part of my thinking.

  2. February 15, 2012, 5:40 am   /  Reply

    I think I’m cool with the first two parts of Maya’s quote, but probably still working on that last part… “liking how I do it.” 🙂 Still searching for the “how” when it comes to reaching for success. The good thing is, I don’t have to have it all figured out…if I keep my eyes on Christ, he’ll point me to the “how.”

    Thoughtful post, as always, Beth!

    • Beth Vogt
      February 15, 2012, 6:18 am   /  Reply

      Melissa,
      You’ve got the right overall perspective — and you’ve got the talent.
      I took a “big picture” view of liking how I do “it” –writing, that its. I know there will always be things I need to learn as a writer, ways to perfect my craft.

  3. Karen S. Elliott
    February 15, 2012, 6:43 am   /  Reply

    I like myself, I like what I do, and I really like how I’m doing it. I also like that people talk about me and my integrity. They notice. Just today I read a blog and the blogger was talking about me in one paragraph – about my integrity – she didn’t mention my name but I just KNEW it was about me. And that, even though un-named, is all the pat on the back I need. And I agree with Keli – older and wiser!

    • Beth Vogt
      February 15, 2012, 6:52 am   /  Reply

      Yes! To be known as a person of integrity . . . that’s wonderful. You’re walking in the way of the wise, as it is said . . .
      And I totally agree with older be wiser.
      Most of the time
      😉

  4. February 15, 2012, 6:56 am   /  Reply

    I so relate to your post, Beth. What a sweet moment for you at that writer’s conference. It’s wonderful to realize you’re following a dream that’s coming true right before your eyes. When I think of success, I think of, “Did I do all God had on my agenda today?” Did I make the most of every opportunity? Not shy away from walking through those open doors in certain conversations? Love without judging? Some days I’m a failure. But the days of success are food for my soul.

    • Beth Vogt
      February 15, 2012, 8:35 am   /  Reply

      You’re so wise to take success one day at a time, Donna. One opportunity at a time.

  5. February 15, 2012, 7:12 am   /  Reply

    Breathing space–combined w/ that tremendous photo–conveys great deep gulps of clean fresh air. Invigorating. Inspiring. Fresh enough to give me renewed momentum to write more today, especially since DT may not be possible. Thanks, Beth

    • Beth Vogt
      February 15, 2012, 8:36 am   /  Reply

      Dee — may you stand in the wide open space of God’s grace today. Know that He loves you … and His plans are perfect.

  6. Jeanne T
    February 15, 2012, 7:16 am   /  Reply

    Love this quote about success, Beth. It takes the pressure off of doing and puts it more on being. I think I’m succeeding in the first two areas of the quote, overall. Some areas of my life I like the “how” of what I’m doing. Other areas, I’m still struggling. It’s a day to day effort to succeed in the “how.” Thanks for the encouraging post!

    • Beth Vogt
      February 15, 2012, 8:36 am   /  Reply

      Glad you were encouraged, Jeanne.
      🙂

  7. February 15, 2012, 7:44 am   /  Reply

    I like what I’m doing and how I’m doing it but some days I struggle with liking myself. Those are the days God says, “Well, I like you and that’s enough.” Then I smile. 🙂 Beth, your posts always make me think and I leave feeling encouraged. Thank you.

    • Beth Vogt
      February 15, 2012, 8:37 am   /  Reply

      Hugs, Jess.
      I think it’s so important to listen to what God has to say about us. For too long I didn’t — I let others be my voice of authority. I’ve “changed channels.”
      😉

  8. February 15, 2012, 7:49 am   /  Reply

    Finally, years ago,I decided I liked who I am after living a lifetime in fear that others didn’t. I think it’s important that we do–maybe it’s age that makes it easier. LOL But I do not like yet what I do–I haven’t found what it is God would have me do even with writing or work or my life. I used to when I owned a Christian bookstore. I thought then ‘this is it’–I’m in ministry where I should be and then we moved away and I have been floundering ever since.

    • Beth Vogt
      February 15, 2012, 8:38 am   /  Reply

      I’ve had the chance to read your blog posts, Terri (it should it be Terri Tiffany) and I have to say your writing is so honest, so real … you always challenge and encourage me. In your floundering … you write truth.

  9. February 15, 2012, 7:50 am   /  Reply

    I LOVE this quote. Hmm, may have to print it out and frame it.

    I mostly like who I am. Of course, there are things about myself I don’t like, but a lot I do. I like what I do, though I look forward to the day I can write full time at home. 😛 And still working on the liking how I do what I do, because there’s always more to learn!

    • Beth Vogt
      February 15, 2012, 8:39 am   /  Reply

      :O)
      Success is a process.
      Agreed on that.
      And I think what success looks like will change as we change, as what God calls us to changes …
      Yes, always more to learn.

  10. February 15, 2012, 12:51 pm   /  Reply

    I admit that even at 35 (or maybe, especially at 35) I still struggle with each of these. Some days are better than others! But thankfully, God is allowing me to see the things that bring me the most joy in life and how He orchestrates for me to do them.

    That’s a great quote!

    • Beth Vogt
      February 15, 2012, 12:56 pm   /  Reply

      I love what you wrote: “God is allowing me to see the things that bring me the most joy in life and how He orchestrates for me to do them.”
      That’s eyes-wide-open perspective.

  11. February 15, 2012, 1:14 pm   /  Reply

    I love what you said about liking who you are. I feel like I’m finally settling into full self-acceptance too. Why does it take us so many tortured years to figure it out? 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      February 15, 2012, 4:48 pm   /  Reply

      Why does it take so long?
      For me: wrong voices of authority.

  12. February 16, 2012, 2:33 pm   /  Reply

    Love this: Perfect is a ridiculous goal.

    • Beth Vogt
      February 16, 2012, 10:07 pm   /  Reply

      :O)

  13. February 16, 2012, 2:38 pm   /  Reply

    Beautiful thoughts! It’s taken me a long time – and I still have a ways to go – but I’m learning perfection isn’t success. I love what you said about defining success without thinking what we might be failing at or what more we need to accomplish.

    • Beth Vogt
      February 16, 2012, 10:07 pm   /  Reply

      Glad you were encouraged, Stacy.

  14. Patti Mallett
    February 16, 2012, 4:30 pm   /  Reply

    What a perfect blend of Positive and Inspiring, starting with the photo and that magnificent quote. Your post so resonates with my spirit, Beth, and the comments are so thoughtful and honest.

    It is with joy that I can say: This woman sitting here typing likes herself and is comfortable in her own (slightly worn-out) skin!

    • Beth Vogt
      February 16, 2012, 10:08 pm   /  Reply

      You are obviously successful, Patti!
      🙂

  15. Penny Schultz
    February 19, 2012, 4:37 pm   /  Reply

    From my youth, I often felt like a misfit. I used to imagine myself with Rudolph on the Island of Misfits. Even after coming to Jesus, I still found myself trying to be different that what I am.
    Thoreau said: If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
    I realized that I was trying to keep a pace that didn’t match the drum beat I heard. All it did was bring frustration to me and no one got to know the real me.
    Thanks for the Maya Angelou quote. I believe I’ve come to the place of liking myself and what I do. I come in and out of the liking how I do it. With the Lord’s help, I will be successful.
    I really like the photo. C’est si bon!

    • Beth Vogt
      February 19, 2012, 10:15 pm   /  Reply

      Like you, coming to like myself has been a life-long process … learning to hear the beat of the drum I’m marching too … and liking the pace.
      🙂

  16. February 20, 2012, 4:18 pm   /  Reply

    “Perfect is a ridiculous goal.” I know it, but sometimes I think I need a reminder.
    The Angelou quote is a good one! I just read this morning a mantra over at Susie Lindau’s blog which goes right along with it: “I am so good at what I do.”
    🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      February 20, 2012, 4:22 pm   /  Reply

      Love that mantra, Coleen!

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