The Invaluable Importance of Movement

A brief exploration on why chasing success is the quickest route to failure.

Tanner Christensen
Oct 18, 2013 · 2 min read

Chasing success feels a lot like eating. To quote the brilliant illustrator slash writer Frank Chimero: “It doesn’t matter how good the meal is. A few hours later, you’re going to be hungry again.”

It’s easy to view success as a single, limited meal that only one person can consume. We treat our pursuits as races to reach the meal before anyone else can, a means to an end. If it’s not us who ends up eating the success, it will be someone else. If we lose the race we feel completely defeated, deterred from trying again when an opportunity arises.

It’s better to not chase success then, but to instead focus on the act itself: running for the sake of running, eating for the sake of enjoying the meal. Ancient, sage advice.

Those who can be labeled as successful — the Bezos, Jobs, Chanels, Gates, Clintons, and Cashmores, Wallaces, etc. in my book — are so because they simply keep moving. They work, and they don’t stop because something they do flops, never fully comes to fruition, or someone else beats them to the “meal.” They keep moving.

As Zach Klein (who started Vimeo, DIY, and is currently an investor with Founders Collective), once said to me: “When something you make doesn’t work, it didn’t work, not you. You, you work. You keep trying.”

We should stop asking ourselves whether or not we’re “successful.” We shouldn’t waste our energies or limited time comparing our victories or defeats to those around us.

Instead, we should intently focus on whether or not we’re moving; whether or not we’re working. Even the smallest movements matter. A single stroke makes a masterpiece when it’s followed by other, progressive strokes.

So, are you working? Are you moving? If you want to be a successful author, for example, the best way to achieve that is to stop wanting to be a successful author and instead simply want to be someone who writes, then go actually write.

This approach to work and living means that there is no end goal, no distractions, no depletion of momentum when we fail to achieve what might be dubbed as “success.” Or, on the other hand, no dissatisfaction knowing that even if we achieve success we’ll simply end up wanting more later on.

Rather than asking: “Am I successful?” Start asking: “Am I moving?”

I. M. H. O.

The Editorial Page

Tanner Christensen

Written by

Product Designer, author, developer. Never not working.

I. M. H. O.

The Editorial Page

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