Success Is Not an Option
Between 2018 and 2021, the number of podcasts on Apple went from 550 thousand to 1.96 million. Including other platforms, that number is somewhere over 4 million at this point.
A lot of people started during the first lockdowns. And an awful lot of them stopped pretty quickly. Some managed to stick it out a little longer. And a few found themselves quitting their jobs to podcast full time.
Imagine if you started a podcast and suddenly you had enough subscribers that sponsors were beating down your door. Would you consider the podcast a success?
And if you quit before releasing the first episode, would you consider it a failure?
Now what if podcasts, as an industry, had collapsed. What if they had turned into something like the Betamax or laserdiscs or the Zune?
Would you still consider quitting a failure?
Success, as a concept, is a really tricky one. In general conversation, we tend to define success using our survivorship bias. Before high school dropouts started tech firms, the idea of dropping out of high school was firmly in the ‘failure’ category. Now, it’s ambiguous.
For someone to say, “this is what will lead to success”, they first have to define “what success looks like” and find a few examples. Then they can backtrack and find some common ‘thing’ and say, “Ah ha! If you do this ‘thing’, it will lead to success!”
But all that shows is how someone else, in the past, became successful in our present. And you want to be successful in the future.
To get started, you need to define success.
Is success seeing your book in a bookstore? Then you have to work with publishers and you will need to concede your grand vision to meet the needs of the market and so on so on.
Is success having 100 people read your book? Then make it a PDF and share it with as many friends as possible and ask them to share it with as many people as they can.
Once you define what success looks like to you, define failure.
Is failure never getting the book written? Is it never sharing it with anyone else?
Once you know both things, remember that you defined these terms. They are creations of your mind and your perspective.
And you can change them as easily as you change your mind.
I’m not suggesting you keep moving the goalpost. Or find new ways to call yourself a failure.
I am suggesting you stop listening to other people and define your successes and failures in your own terms. And just keep trying.