On Winning at Life (and why you should stop trying)

grammyI was watching an interview with Stephen Merchant (Kevin Pollack Chat Show Ep. 171) and he was talking about how people love to see celebrities screw up their lives because “they want to be able to reassure themselves that you can have money and fame but it doesn’t make you happy and it doesn’t make you a good person necessarily….. that you haven’t won at life just because you’re successful.

I love this. I don’t think it’s necessarily a great part of human nature that we like to see others fail BUT I do love the reminder that success and achievement are not equal to winning the game of life.  I think we artists especially need to be reminded of this.  We can get so caught up in the end that we ignore the means.  We’re told from an early age to “go make a name for yourself” and “someday you’re going to BE somebody”.  We spend our days obsessed with “chasing our dream” or “responding to our calling”.  But at what cost? What if you don’t “make it”?

I’m not at all saying we should all give up our dreams.  We shouldn’t.  But we need to enjoy the ride. Concentrate on enjoying the journey regardless of whether you reach the destination.  Dive into your art!! But do it for the enjoyment of creating NOT for what it might lead to.  Because if you don’t, I believe you’ll be pretty disappointed when you get “there”.  What good is achievement if you haven’t enjoyed life along the way?  If you’re an ass to everyone around you, if you put yourself first in everything, that Grammy acceptance speech is going to feel pretty lonely.

In his wonderful book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years“, Donald Miller wonders if “we were designed to live through something rather than to attain something, and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us. The point of a story is the character arc, the change.”


Jonah Brockman is an independent music producer and engineer dedicated to empowering songwriters with the resources they need to make great music.  Visit jonahbrockman.com for more information, rates, and work examples.

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