The light bulb about success went off for me reading FOOLED BY RANDOMNESS by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a book about statistics and stock trading of all things. It laid out how success in highly uncertain fields like the stock market, the arts and entertainment business is almost completely random. People who achieve great things in these fields are lauded for their unique (fill in the blank). Folks opine about as if their success derived directly from merit. Randomness can cause improbable, seemingly impossible streaks of lucky results.
Likewise, gurus, coaches, and your neighbor will all tell you that if you do what you love, the success will follow. Everyone gets a turn. It turns out that is a brand of baloney called the “survivorship fallacy.”
Learning this didn’t demoralize me; it set me free to do my work. Now I work the way I garden. The concept of “success” seems bizarre when applied to the lavender and lilies, the climbing roses and jasmine outside my door. Rejecting that hard work inevitably leads to success doesn’t imply a lazy surrender of effort or goals. Instead, like the gardener, effort is oriented toward implementing a vision and paying attention to its health and beauty for no good reason other than the desire to do it. Planting, weeding, pruning, fertilizing, and enjoying: this is all there is for a gardener or an artist.