This is a guest post from internationally known writer and speaker, Phil Cooke. In episode 81 of the BoldIdea podcast, Phil talked about how to coax creativity from your team.

We’re so enamored by the idea of “success” that I believe it’s derailed an enormous number of creative and gifted people. Because we focus so much on “success” being a financial thing, or a better job title, or finding fame, I believe far too many people feel like a failure, when the truth is exactly the opposite. So let me offer a little different idea of what I believe true success really is:

It’s achieving what you set out to do. Some might say it’s doing what you want to do. Not out of selfish reasons, or for your own ego. It’s simply having the ability, space, or time to do what you actually feel is what you started out to accomplish in life.

A good example is Vincent Van Gogh. One of the greatest painters of all time wasn’t appreciated during his lifetime, never experienced a time without struggle, and died penniless and by his own hand. But he was successful because he was faithful to his calling. He painted and left a remarkable body of work that’s been recognized by generations since his time.

Stop thinking about “success” only in terms of financial rewards, having a big house, or being famous. The truth is, you may struggle for the rest of your life. You may never achieve financial independence. You may not even be recognized by your peers. Worse – you may even be criticized by those peers.

But if somehow you’re able to write, design, sing, paint, teach, preach, do business – or whatever your calling is, then you’ve been successful.

As a pastor, you may never have a large church, but if you’ve been able to spend your life preaching the gospel, then you’re successful.

As a writer, you may never make a bestseller list, but if you’ve spent your career writing, then you’re successful.

As a producer, you may never make a major, studio movie, but if you’re producing films – no matter how small or low budget – then you’re successful.  

And there’s a lot of rich, highly acclaimed people who are living high, who can’t say that.