Reframing Success

This Saturday StageSource, the non-profit I work for, is holding a theater conference for the New England area theater artists and organizations. The theme of the conference is “reframing success”. In other words, changing the narrative around success and what that means. In theater, success and money do not go hand in hand. And having a portfolio career (more than one job) is the norm for most artists. But the thing is, living a creative life is pretty great. So how to own the pretty great part, and reframe the struggles so you can have easier conversations with well-meaning relatives at the holiday dinner table?

Being a writer also needs a bit of reframing, at least for me. When people ask me if I have been published, I tend to say “only short stories”. Unless Edith is nearby, and makes me walk that back. There is no “only”. There are benchmarks on my writing path. When I hit one, I create another one. But what I need to do is stop and celebrate hitting the first one.

I find that I am a much better cheerleader for other people than I am for myself, but most people are. Part of the goal of this blog/group is to support each other, and to use our strengths (which are all different) to create a platform on which we will all succeed.

As I am knee deep in conference planning, I leave you with three action items to get us all reframing success.

First, listen to this podcast from WBUR. Sir Ken Robinson on discovering your passions. 

Second, watch Margaret Ann Brady talk about our conference this week. Though she is talking about acting, her lessons are transferable.

Third, read Liz Mugavero (Kneading to Die) and Edith Maxwell’s (A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die) books. They are two women who are figuring out what success looks like, and letting us all learn from them. They will both be at the NE Mobile Book Fair on Wednesday. Stop by, celebrate, and say hi.

10 Thoughts

  1. A portfolio career–what a perfect term. But I almost screamed at the “only” part, so I’m glad Edith got there first. No matter what kind of art you create, I think a “no onlys allowed” rule should apply. Thank you for the action items. It’s a good plan.

  2. It’s so true. You have to define success for yourself and ignore the well-meaning relatives.

    Whatever you do, there are people to tell you it isn’t enough. I had a career that included what plenty of people would consider traditional success, but there were those who were happy to tell me I wasn’t successful enough. (Not relatives, but people who lived the world I worked in.)

    Same with writing. It’s not novel-length. It’s not a best-seller. It wasn’t reviewed in the New York Times. it’s not literary. And on and on.

    But the only response to this is to do nothing creative, and that just doesn’t work.

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