So, I live in Roswell, GA. It’s a suburb of Atlanta. And as much as I love living in Atlanta, the big thing we’re missing is a body of water. The closest beach is about a 5-hour drive. (Unless you count the local lake… which, I mean, come on). We do have a perfectly good river though, and thanks to that river, we in Roswell have a waterfall.
Roswell has a lot of history to it. The town was built around an old cotton mill – a mill that was once used to make Confederate uniforms for the Civil War (before it was burned to the ground). And to power this mill, they built a 30 ft. dam.
The ruins of this mill and the dam are now one of the most beautiful areas in the Atlanta area. It looks like this:
Today, while exploring the falls, I was trying to navigate my way up a rocky path. As I looked up, it was clear there was only one way up. Every other possible path was either too dangerous or blocked by thick brush.
So I followed this one and only path to the top and looked back down. What I discovered was this:
The brush wasn’t as thick as I assumed. The dangerous rocks were safe and level. There were many paths to the top. I just couldn’t see them because of my limited view.
And as I stood at the top, looking back down, it occurred to me… this is a great cheesy metaphor!
But that’s what life is like, right? Especially for creatives. We may be paralyzed by fear of the unknown. We may be convinced that the path we want to go down is blocked or that the journey to the top is too risky. It’s only when we make it to our destination and look back down that we see how clear the path really was.
I met a guy the other day who referred to himself as “an unsuccessful writer.” When I told him that “success is just a mindset,” he replied “that’s something only successful writers say.”
My first thought was “He’s somehow been fooled into thinking I’m a successful writer! What a sucker!” But I suppose it’s true, I have found a little success in writing. I’m still not doing it full time, but I do have a body of work to show for the past 8 years. I’ve sold screenplays. I’ve made a well-received short film. I’ve had comics published on websites that I respect. I’ve spoken at a conference on storytelling. But it’s only looking back on these accomplishments that I feel anything resembling success. While in the middle of the journey, these are very small steps surrounded by ten times that many disappointments and failures.
The only difference between me and this “unsuccessful writer” was that he just couldn’t yet see his path. The further you climb, the clearer the path becomes. You just have to keep moving forward.
Success is just a combination of time and consistency. To constantly be producing over a long period of time. Focus on the good, not the bad. Overcome your fears. Put your head down and keep climbing. You’ll have plenty of time to figure out the path when you get to the top.