Fact: You Don't Have to Be Well-Known to Consider Yourself Successful
It’s 2015 in America and everyone wants to be famous. Maybe not Jennifer-Lawrence-level famous, but well-known in their field. To put it bluntly, it’s no longer enough to be good at your job—it’s about everyone else knowing you’re good at your job. Then, and only then, can you consider yourself successful.
Or, do we have it all wrong?
Paul Jarvis, a freelance writer, web designer, and instructor, is rebelling against the idea that you have to be “known” to be successful. In fact, he argues that there’s a big difference between being successful and being recognized in your field. Jarvis uses himself as an example: He has the same amount of business after taking up what he calls his “megaphone duties” (popular newsletter, writing, books, and social media efforts) as he did when he was ignoring all of that and just working away at his craft.
And while Jarvis is the first to admit that there are some real perks to putting his name out there (such as a more diverse pool of clients and cooler opportunities), there are also some drawbacks, too. For example, he has less time each day to work on the projects that he wants to be known for. Also, he finds it harder to juggle as much as he used to when it was just him and the work.
So, next time you’re worried that your follower count is lower than everyone else’s, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. You’re Successful if You’re Surrounding Yourself With the Right People
The old adage about quality over quantity is true. Being well-known by 10 people who can do stellar things for your career is far superior to being known by 200 who can’t help you whatsoever.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you have 500+ LinkedIn connections if none of them can help you move your career forward. Think about it: If you got laid off tomorrow, who would you call? Those are the right people. Find more of those.
2. You’re Successful if You’re Keeping Yourself Sharp
Jarvis explains that when people spend time promoting themselves, “their skills start to slip. They’re now removed from making because their time is spent talking about it instead of doing it.” He points out that some people even remove themselves from the spotlight for a while to reconnect with what they became known for in the first place.
Strive to become known not as the person everyone’s heard of, but as the person who always knows what’s going on. Keep up with your field and spend time sharpening your skills. Let your good work and knowledge speak for itself.
3. You’re Successful if You Know How to Promote Yourself for the Right Reasons
Don’t just get a Twitter account just to become Twitter famous. Get a Twitter account to talk to like-minded professionals and share your experiences with people who are interested. It’s amazing how much faster an audience grows from genuine excitement than it does from shameless plugging and promoting. If all your interactions feels natural, then the people who do follow you will be doing it for the right reasons—they like you for you.
Everyone defines success differently—and it’s OK if your version does involve “likes.” Just make sure that you’re the one doing the defining.
Photo of man working courtesy of Shutterstock.
Lily is a writer, editor, and social media manager, as well as co-founder of The Prospect, the world’s largest student-run college access organization. In addition to her writing with The Muse, she also serves as an editor at HelloFlo and Her Campus. Recently, she was named one of Glamour’s Top 10 College Women for her work helping underserved youth get into college. You can follow Lily on Twitter.More from this Author