Success and fame are two things that many strive for in a lifetime, but they are two entities that cannot be measured. By what yardstick do you measure them anyway? Can you measure success by money? I don’t think so. The brokers and bankers on Wall Street made a great deal of money, but I would hardly call them successful.
How do you measure fame? There are probably more people who know me as an ex-bicycle framebuilder, than when I was actually building frames in the 1980s. This is because of the Internet, and anyone can build a following with blogs and the social media. But is this fame, can I take it to the bank, and do I even need to take it to the bank in order to be successful in life?
I think I can safely say I was a successful framebuilder. I think one of the reasons for that is that I didn’t set out to be a “famous” framebuilder. In my youth I wanted to be a famous racing cyclist. When that didn’t happen, framebuilding was an offshoot of the bike racing.
I became a good framebuilder because I built a lot of frames, like any skill the more you practice the better you become. I didn’t want to be famous, I just wanted to make a lot of money. Back then, I believed success was money.
People strive for fame because they want to be noticed. It’s why teens dress in outrageous fashions. I’m not knocking it, I did exactly the same in my teen years. Without this drive there would be no artists, no music, no books, no movies.
Who would even stand up in front of others to perform in some way or other, if they were not saying, “Look at me, look at me, look at me?
So if I say, “Look at me,” I had better have something worthwhile to offer when people do look. Alternatively, if I don’t have anything worthwhile yet because I am only just starting out, (Everyone must start somewhere.) then at least I should recognize this and strive to be better.
The young and the inexperienced would actually be better off if they didn’t draw attention to themselves by dressing or behaving in an outrageous manner. They say, “Look at me,” and when people look there is nothing to see. Nothing substantial. Talent will always shine through in the end, and people will look because they want to.
I have come to realize that what drives me now is not any desire to be noticed, or famous, but to have a positive affect on the lives of others. I have been fortunate enough to build bikes that people still enjoy riding. I am fortunate that I am able to share the knowledge I have gained over the years.
When someone reads my book, or something I have written here, and they tell me it made them think, or they learned something, or they were entertained. That is a positive effect, it is all the success I need. I can’t measure it, but it is pretty big.