Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Secret of Success: Stop Trying to Be Famous

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A friend of mine who’s a millionaire told me this story:

For years, all I wanted was to be known. I would’ve done anything — ANYTHING — to get you to recognize me. I thought that was all that mattered. But it wasn’t until I stopped caring about being famous that I really started to succeed.

It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it, especially in a culture where we often equate fame with success? But, friends, the two are rarely the same.

Success or Fame

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc

Copywriter and entrepreneur Brian Clark recently tweeted about this, saying that some of the smartest people he knows are low-profile people. I agree. In fact, the inverse is often true: The most influential people are rarely the smartest or most gifted; they’re just really good at building influence.


Scary, isn’t it, that the most trusted voices in your industry may not be the best ones to listen to? Makes me wonder if pursuing fame is all it’s cracked up to be. And I bet I’m not alone.

So what do we do about this? Great question.

First: Ask, “Do I want to be famous or successful?”

Of course, success doesn’t have to mean making money; it can mean whatever you want it to mean. Except fame.

The world is full of famous people who haven’t done anything significant. We don’t need another Kardashian. We need more than charisma; we need your contribution, your art, your gift to the world.

So let’s assume you decide that success is more important than fame. What now?

Second: Fall in love with the work, not the results

Humans are terrible at recognizing genius when it’s in front of them. It often takes us years to ignore the best sellers and catch on to true brilliance.

Vincent van Gogh didn’t reach the peak of his fame until after his death. James Joyce (voted one of the Top 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century) was called “unintelligible” by contemporaries. Harper Lee only wrote one book — the only one she needed to write.

So what do we artists, who sometimes obsess with accolades, do? We stop creating for results and learn to embrace the love of the work itself. Because the work, after all, is the reward.

Third: Hone your craft

In this world of platforms and instant connection to everyone, the stakes for creating great work have never been higher. Because it’s so easy to game the system, to trick your way into influence without actually doing anything remarkable, we have to be careful.

We have to avoid the temptation of fame and instead do the quiet work that leads to true success. [Tweet]

This is not easy or efficient, but it’s what’s required if you want to leave a legacy. If you want to do work that makes a difference long after you’re receiving royalty checks.

You need to sit down, shut up, and reach your 10,000 hours of practice.

Does this mean you can’t blog or publish your work or do anything until then? Of course not. Just don’t focus on the promotion when you should be getting better. Because all those tweets and posts and shouting matches take energy — energy that you should be spending on the work, not the marketing.

And once you’ve practiced and honed and created a lot of crap (because we need to do bad work before we can do good work), make your contribution. And then, my friend, you can die.

What’s your goal: success or fame? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. Check out my new book, The In-Between. To get exclusive updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • http://www.donaldmcallister.com/ Don McAllister

    With four children, I don’t want fame, just amazing success. Fame can be fickle and fleeting, I want something that endures. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Amen.

  • Brent_haugh

    Jeff, once again without trying you’ve inspired this writer with your words and thoughts.  Keep up the good work my man!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Brent!

  • http://www.kellybaesen.wordpress.com/ Kelly

    Love it Jeff! I agree with your post and was so glad to see it this morning. So many people I think are turning their wheels trying to get noticed and focus on just building platform. I am truly glad someone has spoken about how that is not the first priority.

  • sixsteps268

    Resonating stuff here Jeff.  A challenge that is needed in our culture if we truly are to be door holders for The Kingdom.

  • tparker

    Success to me is doing what God has for me to do here on earth. A lot of that is writing. I do not want to be famous, however it does seem that in order to share what I feel God has given me, I have to know how to get the word out. It’s not about fame, but it is about sharing it with as many as possible.

    People connect with people online so in order to share what I’ve written people have to connect with me, even though I’d rather be a behind the scenes type success, its seems the online arena, as well as the traditional paperback arena, necessitates authors being “famous” in some sense of the word.

    It still goes against every molecule in my body.

  • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

    Let me answer your question with a question: What constitutes success?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Yep. Exactly.

      • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

        Where’s the “dirty look” emoticon? ;)

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          1. Go to Paypal.com
          2. Send $100 to Jeff Goins.
          3. You’re welcome.

  • http://melannmorales.com/ MelAnn Morales

    Part of success is defining your own success. So my definition may differ from others. I wish to matter to others. The number is up to God! I can do it quietly or famously. Leaving that to Him, too!

  • Andre Harris

    I read once about an experiment. Scientists discovered that chimpanzees could produce quite creditable little ‘art’ works for the pure pleasure of it. Then they started rewarding the chimpanzees for their efforts. Very quickly the chimpanzees changed to just doing quick squiggles and holding out their hand for a reward. The effort that went into their art work rapidly declined as did the quality. I think that this happens to humans too when they try to produce for recognition or for money. They just want to be done with it and move onto the reward because this is what they really care about. 

  • http://twitter.com/rgolwalkar Rohan Golwalkar

    Fame : the state of being widely known or recognized.
    Success : The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
    So :
    Does that mean you only want to accomplish what you want to – and don’t want to be recognized for that?
    How can recognition not be an important aspect – it is like – Mark Zuckerbeg releasing facebook to the world with the CEO name as – Annonymous.

    Readers of this blog admire you as a writer including me – so does that mean  even if we did not comment or express our liking towards your blog – it won’t matter – as you are happy that you write everyday?

    Kindly don’t take it otherwise – i am just trying to understand the whole concept – so pardon my ignorance – awaiting your reply.

    • Gwen S

      Please forgive me–I’m clearly not Jeff. But your comment helped me come to peace with what could become a false dichotomy but is merely a necessary tension, at least for me. I understand the post as encouragement to resist seeking fame simply for its own sake.

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        That’s right, Gwen.

        Fame may happen, but it’s not the goal. The work is the goal. And for me, that means writing what I’m called to write and helping those I meet along the way.

        Of course, an audience is an important part of that, but it’s not the goal. The goal is to write. And yes, if no one showed up to read this blog, I’d still write on it. I made that decision a long time ago.

        The ironic thing is that I believe this is one of the reasons people do show up.

      • http://twitter.com/rgolwalkar Rohan Golwalkar

        Good for you Gwen.
        i regret any inconvenience my comment has brought upon you.
        I was also trying to understand the post.
        Happy Reading.

  • Cheryl Reed

    This was a great post. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel envy for those who seemed not to have struggled to get published….

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Yep. I know how that goes. Envy then leads to bitterness and resentment. Dangerous territory.

  • http://christopherjwilson.com/ Chris Wilson

    Interesting about motivation (certainly in Language learning) if someone enjoys the process of Language learning they (usually) progress faster than someone who enjoys the results (studies back it up)
    I’ve seen this countless times where people who need to learn a language to get/keep a job stagnate, miss classes etc and yet those who clearly just love languages advance quicker. 

    I’ll bet a lot that there are studies that support this for writing and all sorts of art as well. 

    • http://twitter.com/BriannaWasson Brianna Wasson

      That is a brilliant observation. I currently live in a foreign country, where my husband and I and our two kids are learning the language. My youngest has this deep desire to learn it, and she is seriously the most fluent of all of us. Very cool.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Wow. That IS interesting!

      • http://christopherjwilson.com/ Chris Wilson

        If you want to know more then just search for Intrinsic vs Extrinsic motivation. 

    • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

       That’s great Chris. I work with online and blended learning, and the studies say similar things thing for these programs, that self-directed learners persist. What surprised me though was how much this has to do with self-confidence (i really do have what it takes to learn this…) and basic skill development (I’ve figured out how to send the teacher a message).

      Jeff, I think this is why your core message is so powerful; you’re helping people tap into that deeper intrinsic motivation, giving them a hand up by boosting their belief that they can do it, and giving them tools to do it.

      • http://therightvolume.com/ Samantha Livingston

        I agree. His message is powerful because it speaks to the depths of our guts, our persistent and, dare I say, courageous hearts that just love the high we get from believing in, creating and birthing a message.

  • JJ Johnston

    Great Post! I think loving our work and working at it with passion is central to success. To focus on the praise and accolades of others over the calling on our lives brings us face to face with the danger of becoming insincere or plastic. There’s nothing as refreshing as spending time with a genuine person who loves what they get to do.

    Thanks again for the post! I’ve been reading the blog for awhile, and it has been challenging, inspiring, and just plain helpful.

    Keep it up!

  • http://twitter.com/BriannaWasson Brianna Wasson

    Jeff, such a timely post today. For the last two weeks, I’ve been working through personal questions of this very nature. What is it I really want to do in this whole writing endeavor? And I am realizing I want to affect a great change in people. THAT will be success. Not big platform or published work or even lots of email subscribers. I want to create art that moves people to change. The end. And now, to keep remembering that… 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Brianna. Success for me looks like something very similar.

      • http://twitter.com/BriannaWasson Brianna Wasson

        It probably doesn’t surprise you to know that you  and your course have helped me realize that definition. :) So — thank you!

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          Awesome.

    • http://therightvolume.com/ Samantha Livingston

      Thanks for that Brianna. I’ve been wrestling with that question too. And to take it a step further, the reason THAT motivation is so difficult for me is it requires me to live by faith instead of sight. What I SEE are the “likes” (or lack thereof) and the comments (or lack thereof) and I’m praying hearts are being moved in the unseen. That is what can’t be quantified.

  • http://www.thehopefilledroad.com/ Raye Wortel

    I routinely remind myself that I write or speak to an audience of ONE.  The Lord is my audience, and the only One I truly have to answer to.  Thanks for another great post, Jeff!

  • DeborahPenner

    This so totally blesses my heart and reminds me of what matters.  Thank you, Jeff!  

  • http://twitter.com/ReniaEats Renia Carsillo

    Success is so much more interesting than fame! I’ve spent 5 years with plenty of local fame and would trade it for success any day! It took big failure in a public way to realize that. I wish you had written this five years ago (although I might not have listened then).

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Interesting, Renia. I’d love to hear more.

  • Chris Doster

    Beyond excellent…Perfect “work” Jeff.  Before I considered myself a “writer”, I was trained as a health care products sales professional. Your post reminds me of how hard I often try to “sell” rather than “create”. As well, how hard I’ve tried to be “discovered” rather than satisfied with my good work. Thanks for the inspiration…

  • Katharine Trauger

    Success, of course, which to me is helping people. However, fame would result in helping more people, no?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Maybe. But that’s not the goal. It’s a means to an end, right? So the lesson is to help as many people as you can now, not wait until you have influence. That’s my take on it, anyway.

      • http://therightvolume.com/ Samantha Livingston

        Great qualification. Also there are a lot of “famous” people who are just smoke and mirrors. At the end of the day, what remains behind all that? Fame to me seems more temporal. I think success may be built one brick at a time.

  • http://www.nebraskagraceful.blogspot.com Michelle DeRusha

    Absolutely great timing with this message, Jeff. As we begin Lent, I’ve been hearing from God that perhaps my priorities are a bit off. I’ve been focused more on myself and my own success, and less on him and on love in general. So thanks.

  • http://mwwrite.blogspot.com/ Micky

    Great stuff, Jeff. Always enjoy your posts and good insights. Success for me is experiencing the deep sense of peace and joy which manifests when using–serving–with the gifts each of us have been given to inspire and encourage others to be their authentic self. You are certainly one of those folks who bless others in those ways, and more.

  • Deborah Bateman

    Great article. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes success may not be how much money you’re putting in the bank, but how much you love what you do. Eventually the money will come.

  • http://MikeLoomis.CO/ Mike Loomis

    Great insight, Jeff! Reminds me of something I see when I watch the Grammy’s  -  There are this year’s stars, then there are those old guys in the suits… year after year… and we don’t know their names.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Interesting.

  • Bryan

    QUIET WORK—my favorite two words of this piece. 
    I serve in a care profession. And, this morning, I made my pastoral rounds—elderly women in different assisted living situations, as it turned out.  No one outside heaven sees this work. And, if I were intent of fame, this “quiet work” simply wouldn’t be done. This is true of anyone working in a care profession. This is true of lots of work.Sometimes success looks like the very opposite of fame. Sometimes, success is QUIET. 

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

    Jeff,

    You can’t achieve high profile or low profile success if you don’t “Love the Work.”

    It’s impossible… or at least highly improbable.  The will always be the work and if you don’t enjoy the audience your trying to build with sniff you out.

    It’s easy to tell you enjoy your work… That’s why it’s so easy to come back here every week.

    Thanks,

    Hanley

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Ryan. I know you do, too. :)

  • http://propreacher.com/ Brandon

    Brilliant post. Thanks Jeff.

    Totally needed to hear this right now. I’m in the middle of a big transition and pursuing my dreams, and I keep fighting with my motive. Am I doing it to try to be famous or to make a difference. It started with trying to make a difference, but the fame monster trying to sneak into the picture. Thanks for the inspiration to stick to what matter.

  • fevoice

    Back in the late 70′s I had the pleasure of living in Aspen Colorado. I was also the morning man at the local FM station, KSPN. Lot’s of celebs and rock stars hung out in Aspen and the rock stars would always stop in with their new album for us to play. That is how I got to become friends with Glen Frey of the Eagles. He had a condo across the street from me and we hung out quite a bit whenever he was in town. One of the things he liked most about the Eagles was, though they were wildly famous and made a small fortune as a band – individually they could walk down any street in America and not be recognized. He was into the band big-time. But away from it, he and the other members enjoyed their relative anonymity.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    I heard a story about Waylon Jennings yesterday. He was wildly famous. Sold a lot of records. Made a lot of money. Became a drug addict and filed bankruptcy. Had poor health and couldn’t get around well before he died. Was he famous or successful?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Good question.

  • Marsha P.

    Success, definitely. I just want my work to be read and discussed. If it helps someone along the way, so much the better.

  • http://twitter.com/NicoleEfunnuga Nicole Efunnuga, M.S

    Thanks for this post.  As a therapist in private practice, I’ve recently had conversations with fellow professionals who seem to push fame-seeking types of behavior.  As a new blogger and aspiring writer, I find much of the same and sometimes feel overwhelmed by the deluge of “branding” demands.  This is a refreshing perspective…very freeing.

    Love your blog, too. :-)

  • http://www.CFinancialFreedom.com Dr. Jason Cabler

    My goal would be success.  Success for me would be:

    1.  To make money from my blog, speaking, courses, and books.
    2. To change as many lives as possible through those resources.
    3. To be able to transition to a lifestyle where I have more control over when and where I work.

    I am well into my 10,000 hours and I know that what I’m doing will only continue to build upon itself.  Success is usually not an instant thing, and when it is, it doesn’t last.  

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Excellent, Jason. Now, here’s the hard part: Pick one. At the end of your life, if you could only do one of those three, which would it be? I’m not saying you won’t be able to do all of them eventually, but which one has the priority?

  • Lauriemcclary

    LOVE the last two sentences of this post.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      :)

      Isn’t that what we all want — to die happy and fulfilled?

  • http://EvaPScott.com/ EvaPScott

    Another author who only wrote one book is the one who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. When I found out as a child that was the only book she wrote I was greatly distressed. Sometimes a person writes beautifully because they write from a great passion. Their work succeeds in what they want, and then they quit.

    It sounds like from quotes in the link the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird” didn’t like the fame, and so she gave up her passion – at least in the public.

    The thing about fame is, once you get it, you can’t give it back.

    Success, on the other hand, without fame can continue on.

  • http://www.scottpostma.net/ Scott Postma

    Jeff, Great Post! I love this thought: “The world is full of famous people who haven’t done anything significant…we need your contribution, your art, your gift to the world.” Thanks for keeping it real!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome, Scott!

  • Kandace Rather

    Success- and the fact that I didn’t give up after a colossal failure reassures me daily that my calling will remain whether I choose to yield to it or fear it.

  • Ron Marinkovich

    Great ending! Thats all I have to say :)

  • http://twitter.com/meganwillome Megan Willome

    I want to be Emily Dickinson–no one knows how brilliant I am until I’m dead. And then they all puzzle over me and create competing theories, and I’m up in heaven, laughing.

  • https://twitter.com/rosaleslem Lemwelle Rosales

    I can die? LOL! I agree with Ron. That’s some ending, jeff! 

    Also, it’s interesting that while the idea is really not so new, we have to be repeatedly reminded that fame, happiness, and fortune are all a great paradox. That the more you chase after them, the more they will elude you and the less attention you give them, the more they will creep unto you.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      :)

  • http://twitter.com/meganwillome Megan Willome

    Of course, the problem with that scenario is I’ll never be as brilliant as Emily Dickinson. :)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Really? Why?

  • Steph

    True success is infinitley better.  I’ve been following your blog for a while and really respect your work.  Not long ago, I was working on and towards things that I “thought” people would like instead of just coming from the heart and openly sharing my”wrecked-ness”…  Today I did that for the first time.  I’m learning a lot from you, Jeff.  Thank you.  My wrecked story is here: http://www.howdoesshe.com/nurturing-you-part-one-tlc-for-the-weary/comment-page-1/#comment-153393

  • Katina Vaselopulos

    Anyone can die at any time, but, at my age, it can happen sooner than later. That is why I wrote what my heart wanted me to write and never thought of fame, not even success.
    I may not be all over the place of social “business” but I submit my book in a couple days and feel good about it, even though I could work on it another 10 years.

    Thanks to you Jeff and the Tribe, I took my journaling to another level, and I am grateful.

    • http://bobholmes.blogspot.com/ Bob Holmes

      Awesome Katina!

  • http://www.timothyburns.com/ Timothy Burns

    In a highly segmented world, anyone can find a tribe and get attention. Seems that the world around us is increasingly celebrating the ‘nobodies’ who gain attention. But Jesus said the last will be first. Famous, great and rich aren’t synonymous. Jesus kingdom operates on different ideas.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    “If you want people to talk about you, do something worth talking about.” Ive always loved that quote. Speaks volumes.

    Every person has their own motives for why they do what they do but for me, I don’t need my name in lights to feel successful. If the lights shine then that’s a fine byproduct but not the primary goal. I just want to make a difference whether it’s seen by many or simply felt by a few.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re a good man.

  • http://www.raymundtamayo.com/ Raymund Tamayo

    Great, great post, Jeff. Inspiring as usual!

  • http://twitter.com/bernardkelvin Bernard Kelvin Clive

    Jeff, you really hit the nail on the head on this. Thank you. My question has always been to ask people what success truly mean to them, Fame or Value?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Ooooh… I LIKE that!

  • April

    I agree with Goins, except for a bit at the tail end:

    When I was a young girl, I played clarinet in band. I continued into college. Somewhere in between, I learned the notion that we should practice how we’d want to play in a concert; that is, with all the precision, rigor and gusto you can muster on an average weeknight. Then, when your body is filled with adrenaline on the stage, you will play that much better.
    The same proved true in the running world.
    I think we should practice well, not just write garbage and think that we’re qualify for a Pulitzer. Albeit, we all need our personal journaling outlet to be loosey-goosey — but, I’m talking about all professional or semi-professional writing.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hi April. I agree. Where do you think you’re disagreeing with me? Maybe I wasn’t clear.

  • http://bobholmes.blogspot.com/ Bob Holmes

    You are an absolute breath of fresh air. I do enjoy reading your insight Jeff. Thanks my friend. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      My pleasure, Bob.

  • Dalene Reyburn

    Thanks Jeff – needed this more than you can imagine. 

  • http://www.theconfidencelounge.com/ Aaron Morton

    Good article Jeff. I think fame is too broad to assume its not beneficial for some people. Fame in the Kardasian sense is an illusion, they are essentially a product brought out by a TV company. Fame in the American idol sense is also an illusion because they get forgotten about far too easily.
    However within a certain industry, you can be very prolific and as a result become famous within that area and still be great at what you do. Will you be the best, well unless your industry has rankings, the answer to that is always going to be subjective.The Confidence Lounge.

  • Sukumar karmakar

    Jeff, why did u write this?

    Isn’t it bad, breaking others believe?

    It’s hurting me. All these long years I considered the
    opposite was true.

    Should I call this article awesome?

     Never.

    Bullet to head. BOOM.

  • FacesOfLions

    Good thoughts Jeff!
    As a professional copywriter, I’ve achieved a measure of success but no serious visibility. We all want our “15 minutes of fame” though, regardless of its fleeting nature.
    Dave

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That’s right, Dave.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    Bingo and Amen.  It’s taken me a long journey to dissever this absolute truth, and I still have work to do.

  • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ Kim Hall

    Important points to help us keep our heads on straight, feet on the ground, and pride in check! I am reminded of some prose entitled “Success”, often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but more likely written by a Bessie Stanley:

    To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons
    and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens
    and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find
    the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit
    better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social
    condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;
    to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this
    is to have succeeded.

    This definition resonates with me, as I have no desire to be famous, only to be successful in helping moms build stronger and more satisfying relationships in their lives.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Great quote, Kim!

  • Lisa

    Thanks, Jeff. Food for thought, as always. This is something I struggle with the most as a fledging writer and a Christian. How do I promote myself when I’m supposed to be promoting Jesus? My work is what reflects him, but to get people to the words, I have to shine the spotlight on me. I don’t like it. But this post helped. Thanks. 

  • http://pickadirectionandgo.blogspot.com/ mickholt

    Oh how important it is to be doing the “work” of our art. If fame, fleeting temptress that she is, comes – sobeit but I want to be true to me and to my craft and to the one and only God of the universe that blessed me with the ability to use words effectively and positivley affect the lives of those around me.
    Good post Jeff.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Beautiful.

  • Lisa

    what a great post….  i often wonder why i write and what i am trying to achieve.  success in my own mind is the ultimate aim – fame only is as much as reaching out to those who want to be reached…  so many comments about being true to ourselves and who we are – great to link with similar minded..
    thanks

  • http://hugmomma.blogspot.com/ Hugmomma

    This is one that I struggle with quite a bit. I often wrestle with success vs. impact. I get bogged down in measuring my work based on response and numbers looking for evidence that I have made a difference. However, when all is said and done, my heart’s desire is to be found faithful. Who in my eyes would I consider the most successful person? Just had to write about that…. http://www.hugmomma.com/2013/01/faithful-or-successful.html

  • Halanobani

    The best advise ,as usual. My goal is to write something, that will make proud, when I face God.That I can say ” I did my best to change my surroundings to a better place  in God’s standards.”

  • http://www.webthesmartway.com Ghua

    really  great advice!
    My goal is success, I don’t care about fame ;)

  • http://beautyinthestorm.com/ Dionna

    This is a really great post. Most of us are ambitious, but seeking fame usually means wanting to elevate ourselves and our own status.  When you can lay down your pride in humility and remember why it is you do what you do, then you are really in your sweet spot. And for me, I remind myself that God will use me as He sees fit – not as I see fit. That keeps me humble right there. :)

  • Sam Edge

    I have spent a considerable amount of energy pondering this very subject. In my writing I have explored the movement from Survival to Stability to Success to Significance. Ultimately I am trying to ascend to significance in my life. Fame may be a byproduct of this but certainly not any kind of key objective. The value of fame is that it enables one to reach more people and ultimately make more of an impact. You can read more on Success and Significance by visiting http://www.edgeynotes.com and searching these terms.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Love that, Sam.

      • Sam Edge

        Thanks Jeff! It’s always not easy being wrecked!

  • Jen Burk

    This is exactly what I needed to read.  I’ve been wasting time researching how best to market myself, when what I really need to be doing is focusing on writing.  Thanks, Jeff!    

  • http://www.kayemarketingstudio.com/ Julie Ann Kaye

    Thanks for your great inspirational talk at the Platform Conference. I’m trying to put together my thoughts on my takeaways and how to bring back the knowledge to my clients. I really enjoy your blog and more so since I heard you in person, because I have an idea where you are coming from. As a marketing professional I know how much time it takes to market your own business, and since most of my time is helping others marketing their business, my own marketing does tend to get neglected. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome, Julie!

  • http://iancochrane.com.au/ iancochrane

    Good point Jeff.
    Maybe it’s not fame that’s important. 

    But I think we – as writers – do need some form of recognition or appreciation. I imagine it would be very difficult if there was no encouraging input from somewhere. How does it go? No man is an island? (or woman I strongly suspect)

    Blogging communities can certainly help with that input.

    Cheers, ic

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Indeed. But I think identity comes from within. No amount of affirmation can make you believe in yourself or actuality your calling.

  • http://johnwiswell.blogspot.com/ John Wiswell

    It isn’t so scary to realize the most trusted or retweeted names in an industry aren’t the most talented, given how much popular advice is either half-true or utter nonsense. And it seems like every vastly successful writer I cross paths with was unknown for a decade or more before reaching his or her tipping point.

  • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

     In the same vein with fame, I’d put some other things: making pay-dirt, selling a certain # of copies, my first book being all I had hoped it would be, the runaway success, and the list goes on. When I was in love with those things, I didn’t write. When I got hooked on this idea of putting in 10,000 hours, things switched. It’s a great trade :) I’d be dishonest to say that the old list doesn’t sometimes inspire me; those things serve a purpose at times, it’s just that they can’t take us where we really need to go.

  • http://leadright.wordpress.com/ Brent Dumler

    My goal?  Honestly, I want for God to be famous because of my success.  But if I’m completely honest, I would like Him to share some of that fame ;)  Makes me think there’s a direct correlation between our heart for our craft and the quality….crap or value.  Thanks for the post.

  • http://www.liveyourwhy.net/ Terry Hadaway

    People who write for fame or fortune will find neither. People who write because it’s the reason God left them here will discover that real satisfaction comes when we work to make Him famous.  |  Write now!

  • http://therightvolume.com/ Samantha Livingston

    I LOVE this! Reminds me of when I quit a “fancy” job that most people would’ve killed to get and my boss disagreed with my decision saying, “How are you gonna have success?” I looked him square in the eye and said “I think you and I have a different definition of success.”

    Thanks for transposing this for me onto the writing & blogging life!

  • http://www.pauljolicoeur.com/ Paul Jolicoeur

    Thanks for the reminder Jeff and keep my thoughts on the right track. I want to be successful doing what I do with excellence and integrity. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Awesome goal, Paul.

  • http://www.dalecallahan.com Dale Callahan

    Great advice Jeff. After all – it is not about us. Great to meet up with you at Platform.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Likewise, Dale!

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    It’s amazing to think about our perceptions of things – everyone had to start somewhere.  I remember reading about the various blog attempts you made before hitting your stride here.  We all have to start from where we are right now.  I believe in success – “Success is a process of living life in such a way that
    influences others for God’s glory.” DS

  • http://JaredLatigo.com/ Jared Latigo

    Awesome thoughts as always Jeff. Not sure I can add to this so I won’t even try. Stay awesome.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Right back atcha, dude. ;)

  • Michael Cairns

    Hey Jeff
    Great post, thanks very much.
    Particularly enjoyed the last line!
    I do worry about this entire issue. As a teacher I see the cult of celebrity gain more and more influence with young people and the concepts of merit and achievement are becoming irrevocably attached to it, even as the two get further apart!
    Food for thought.
    Cheers
    Mike

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I’ve seen that, too, Mike. Sad.

  • 01200120

    Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for your post. It help put things in the right place, and set priorities. But I wonder, how do you turn your writing into a way of making a living without making an effort to get your name out there?
    Thanks,
    F. Poj

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I never said promoting your work wasn’t part of the gig. It is. But just make sure it’s not the goal (if that’s not ultimately what you want to do). Fame isn’t always the path to success. That’s all I Was trying to say.

  • Rachel Pregunta

    Hi Jeff. I am a new reader. I’m thinking of really pursuing writing, because it is something that I have always wanted to do, and it’s the work that I would die doing. I guess it will be really challenging to train yourself to not think of the money first. 

  • http://mikebechtle.com/ Mike Bechtle

    Love your last paragraph. Well-crafted truth . . .

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Mike!

  • http://www.facebook.com/nealeobooks Neale Orinick

    I am definitely looking to be successful, not famous. I want to share what’s in my head with the world through my novels. I welcome any kind or critcism when it comes to my writing, but I don’t need someone to make fun of my hairstyle. I don’t care if everybody knows who I am, but I would like it if A LOT of people knew my characters.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That’s a good goal, Neale. Spoken as a true novelist!

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