I first “met” Kevin a few weeks back when he guest-posted for Shawn Smucker about how he’s looking fear in the eye in the face of losing his job and being a first-time father very soon. I was so impressed by his courage and his honesty that I asked him to write for me about what living our dreams. Here’s his brilliance.
A couple months back, I heard a story that totally gripped my entire being. It was one of those corny “it mattered to that starfish” kind of analogous illustrations, but there was something so relevant about it that I’ve never forgotten it.
The story goes something like this:
A man walks up to a successful guru and asks him what he must do to be successful. The guru pauses, looks him up and down, and then says: “Meet me at the beach at 4 a.m.”
The man is puzzled by this request, but he is anxious to learn, so he agrees, and they part ways.
The next morning, the man shows up at 4 a.m. to find the guru waiting for him at the beach. The guru then says, “If you really want to learn how to be successful, follow me into the water.”
This was a particularly odd request, as both men were fully dressed in attire that was not suitable for swimming, but again he consents, wanting to see what the guru has up his sleeve.
As the two men started to wade out to the deeper waters, the guru grabbed the other man and proceeded to dunk his head and hold him underwater.
The man struggled and flailed, trying to get back above the water, but the guru’s grip was too strong, and he could not overcome him.
Finally, after a few more seconds, the guru let the man back up. He was flustered and still totally overwhelmed by what had occurred. In a furious rage he exclaimed: “Why did you do that! What is wrong with–”
Before the man could even finish his sentence, the guru had grabbed him again and dunked him underwater for a second time. This time, he held him down even longer.
Eventually, he relented and allowed the man to come back up for air.
The man was so angry that he hardly knew what to do with himself. He was confused and started to become fearful. All of his emotions culminated at once as he began to berate the guru.
Like before, the guru interrupted his sentiment, grabbed hold of him firmly and dunked him for a third time.
This time, the submersion felt like an eternity. The man had run out of air, and gasped, which resulted in him taking in water. He began to panic, and he thrashed violently until the guru finally let him up.
After giving him a few moments to recover and regain his composure, the guru looked at the man and finally spoke:
“When you want to succeed as badly as you wanted to breathe, then you will find success.”
What does it mean to be successful as a writer?
I don’t feel like there’s a short answer to that question. At least, there shouldn’t be. The foundation of all of that must be to write well, to write material that is worth something to the people who read it.
But it’s also more than that.
We all have our goals that we want to achieve. For me, my goal is to get to a point where writing pays my bills. I don’t need to become independently wealthy from my words (though I’ll not refuse it), I just want to be able to pay my bare minimum bills, as a result of the writing that I perform.
That answer may be (and probably is) different for a lot of you. Maybe you already pay your bills with your writing, and to be successful, for you, means to step it up a notch and write a best-seller.
Maybe it means your blog starts getting 100,000 views a month. Maybe it means you get an article published in The Wall Street Journal.
Regardless of your definition, ask yourself today how badly you want to succeed. Do you want it as badly as you want the next breath?
Go and write great things! Stop waiting. Accomplish your goals. Define what it means to you to be successful and then succeed!
Kevin Haggerty is a 32-year old husband and expecting father. He runs and writes for a humor blog called TheIsleOfMan.Net. For his full-time job, Kevin is a middle school teacher and basketball coach. He also writes for a mixed martial arts (MMA) blog called MMAMania.com. He’s the oldest of seven children, a continual skeptic and smart people think he’s funny (at least that’s what he tells himself).