Skip to content


Success: it’s a word that gets passed around a lot in society, but I’m not sure anybody really knows what it means. Since grade school we are brought up to believe in a certain standard of success. It all starts with one simple question: what do you want to be when you grow up? From that day forward we are pushed along through the checkpoints of success, steered toward some mysterious Xanadu that no one seems to achieve.

The first question is sincere enough. We all laugh as a child reaches into his or her dream world and pulls out the most amazing of aspirations. What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a fireman. I want to be a movie star. I want to be a doctor, a writer, an artist, an athlete, a rock star, a veterinarian, a lawyer, a comedian, and on, and on. This is the only time that this answer truly comes from the heart. After this point, our answers become beaten into submission by society’s view of success. After this point, the answers are quickly followed with, “Oh … what are you going to do with that?”

What has happened to the standard of a man’s success? Today’s society honors only the rich and the famous. In the Greek society, the most revered men were also the poorest. They were the thinkers, the writers, and the philosophers. Today, any student of philosophy is barraged daily with insults and snide remarks, mocking them for what will most certainly be an “unsuccessful” future. What has happened?

This thing called money is a strange thing. It has destroyed many societies and I’m sure it will be the downfall of our own. We are all prisoners in this society. What is the American dream? To get rich and become successful. There’s that word again. This time it comes after the money.

If you look outside in any given day, you will see a nation of zombies. We are all following a ritual. Each of us, it seems, is on his or her own agenda, struggling to make ends meet, dreaming of fame, fortune, and success. When meeting new people, the question is always asked, “What do you do?” like it somehow defines who we are. Those days are long gone. Very few people these days can be defined by what they do. People are no longer following their heart. This must be pushed aside as we are poured into the mold of success laid by society.

Why do people do it? Why do we give up our earliest dreams as we submit to the power of the almighty dollar? What is the difference between a dead CEO and a dead custodian? Nothing. They are both dirt, but only one has truly lived.

If you talk to any “blue collar” worker, they will never tell you about their job. They will only tell you about their passion. For some it is their job, but to these it is so much more. Their eyes light up as they tell you about their day, as they tell you about the problems they solved or the amazing stories they heard from the other guys. For others, their job is just a means to an end, a way to survive in this society as they follow their passions.

Too many people today let their job get in the way of their passion. They let it wither away as they chase their own white rabbit of success. People have become selfish and heartless, soulless robots serving the great machine. Everyone has his or her own agenda and will step on anyone to achieve it. This is our society. This is our success.

I stopped telling people my dreams of becoming a writer. Nobody cares about that. They want to know what I am, not what I want to be. I tell them I’m a stagehand and they quickly become uninterested as I explain further. That’s not a real job. That’s not one of the boxes you can check on your census form. I tell them I’m also a substitute teacher and their eyes light up. “Oh really? What do you want to teach?” They are quickly brought back down when I tell them it’s only a way to pay the bills as I chase my dreams. I have no desire to teach.

This is a sad semblance of life we have created for ourselves. Life has nothing to do with earning money. Life is about meeting new people, seeing new places, having new adventures. If you talk to someone on their deathbed, they will never speak of their job. They’ll speak of their friends and their family and the good times they had over the years. So why do we make a career such a high priority in today’s society? Why do so many people set their job before their friends and before their family?

There are some who say that money is a necessary evil, that you must be able to support a family to be successful, but at what point do you rid yourself of this evil? How many of these people “supporting” their family truly know their children? How many of these people can even say they really have a family? Is this success?

I am convinced that the only way to truly be successful, to truly be happy is to follow your passions. A man who is doing what he loves is much more pleasant to be around. He has a stronger family and stronger friends. No one cares about how much he makes or how he pays the bills, those people shun him, these people only care about who he is, and these are the only people he cares about. This man is real. This man will live long after he dies in the hearts of those he touched as he followed his passion and lived his life. These are the men they write stories about. These are the only men that succeed.