What does artistic success mean to you?

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In an extract from her new book, creative coach Deborah Henry-Pollard explains why it’s important to be clear on what success means to you:

In my experience success means different things to different people. It’s important for you to know what it means to you.

For some people success means wealth, fame, awards, possibly a title or a place at the top table of the art world.

For others, wealth and fame isn’t what they want their lives to be about. What motivates them is the desire to express themselves and to feel the satisfaction of being who they were born to be. But they get stuck because wealth and fame is what they think they ‘should’ be aiming for, what the world seems to celebrate and what business books tell us we should be working towards.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines success as ‘the accomplishment of an aim or purpose’. That’s it, and it could apply equally to a glittering career or making a decent cup of tea.

Maya Angelou reputedly said that success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.

American entrepreneur Tony Hawk says, ‘My definition of success is doing what you love. I feel many people do things because they feel they have to and are hesitant to risk following their passion’.[1]

As a coach, I personally measure my own success by the feeling I get when working with exciting and inspiring people. There is a practical aspect of my work where I have to generate an income, but only because it allows me to do more of the work I love.

So forget what you think other people mean by success and define it in your terms. What do you want your own unique, thriving, creative life to be?[2]

Then you can go for it.

To read more from Deborah, take a look at  her book Succeeding as an Artist.

“I am completely blown away by Deborah’s book! It has a really concise, engaging and understandable style. It is really refreshing. All chapters are valid and helpful: the exercises are great and point the reader in the right direction. I really enjoyed reading it and have already started with a few of the exercise”Christine Manderla, artist

[1] Tony Hawk interviewed by Gary Cohn, Entrepreneur Magazine, October 2009

[2] Check out Martyn Lewis’s book Reflections on Success (CB Creative Books, 2014) for a collection of interviews with sixty-seven famous people on what success means to them

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