Sunday, July 09, 2006

Success versus Greatness

"Success, not greatness, was the only god the world served." Cameron Crowe in Elizabethtown.

I really like the storytelling of writer and director Cameron Crowe. Jerry Maguire has always been one of my favorite movies (although I could do without the language). We actually watched that again last week. I thought about the character and his struggle with his "memo." He thought it was wonderful. He was committed to this new way of undertaking the business of sports agency. . .that is until others read it using their filter of the god of success.

How do we measure success?

In a job, we tend to measure our success by the amount of our salary, how quickly we get promoted, or positive feedback on a review.

In parenting, we will measure our success by evaluating our children. How soon did they potty train? How soon did he learn his alphabet? What reading level have they attained, and how soon? What talents has my child shown on the playing field or in the auditorium? Did they stay sexually pure and substance free? What was their GPA and their SATs? What profession have they chosen and how many grandchildren have they produced?

In blogging, we look at hits or comments or links from other blogs to determine our success.

Can something be great and still not be successful as the world defines success? Of course it can. Look at the many blogs out there. There are some that I read that are great. Great quality writing. Great spiritual insight. But depending on how you are defining success, they might not have it. I am thankful that they are committed to continue writing, and hopefully they gauge success by knowing that they are enjoying producing it, and they are reaching those who do read their words, be it five people or five hundred.

Gina, over at Portrait of a Writer. . . Interrupted, reprinted a great article from Mary Demuth on Publishing. In it, she shares her goals as a writer that are not defined by the "success" of publishing. It's a great read for writers, and I think we can apply it to our blogging as well.

I wrote a bit about my reasons and goals for blogging here, and they are still evolving. But I do hope that I will continue to strive for greatness, for being content with being a thing of beauty, and not worry about success as the world measures it. I am thankful that the God I serve measures my heart and while doing so also doles out His merciful grace freely.

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Some blogs that I think are great and are successful in my mind:

Here and Now
Unfinished Work (Updated Sunday night to add that Dianne has just unveiled her new look tonight, and she tweaked it herself!)
Callapidder Days (Katrina won the Bluebird Blogs free design contest and it's just been installed. It looks great!)


Laura said...

I like what you said here about reaching five people or five hundred and that sucess isn't determined by the number of people reached. As a stay at home mom, fresh from a very fulfilling, rewarding, visible non-profit career, the transition of affecting hundreds of children, as opposed to my one sometimes has seemed less then. It's been a hard lesson, this one about what success is and how unimportant the world's (or close friends or family's) definition truly is. And whatever you may read over at my blog are merely reflections of what God is saying to me. None of it is anything original from my head or heart. My blogging purpose remains sucessful as long as I 1) remember that and 2) stick to writing primarily what He's put on my heart. :) I think the same of yours by the way!

Katrina said...

Thank you, Jennifer. I feel the same way about your blog, and I'm so glad that you started it and have been so consistent in writing/posting. I always enjoy and appreciate what you have to say. Your post today rings very true with me - both in the blogging world and the freelance writing world. The number of my blog hits or "publishing credits" is not what counts - it's what I'm doing with what God has given me, and whether or not I'm following His lead. God has given me a love for the written word, so whether I'm reading a book, writing a parenting article, or blogging about a funny incident at our house, I can enjoy the fact that He has given us languange and humor and insights and a way to share all that is on my heart.

Dianne said...

Thanks Jennifer. You are so sweet! I do love your blog and have enjoyed getting to "know" you through blogging.

Hey, I uploaded a new blog template for my blog. It only took me about 45 minutes to do it. I have to tweak it a bit but it was super easy. If you want the site where I got it, shoot me an email.

Gina said...

I'm so glad Mary's article encouraged you! It's something we need to keep reminding ourselves over and over again.

BTW, how did you link in your comment on my blog? I've been trying to figure out how to trackback with Haloscan, but your comment link is just as good!

Jennifer said...

Gina--This may not be the easiest way, but I make a link inside a new post on blogger (I keep one called Links or something so I can do this). Then I just format the link and cut and paste the HTML.

Susanne said...

This is a really great post on defining success. It's good to keep in mind.

I noticed your comment on Dianne's post about figuring out how to tweak your site. If you go to and go to her works for me wednesday post from last week she walks you thru it step by step. She just did hers too! Just in case you were interested.

Jennifer said...

Thank you Susanne. I actually saw that, but I am not finding exactly what I want to even stick in there. We'll see. Your Bluebird blog is really beautiful, too.