Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Small Beginnings Aren't As Bad As We Think

If you were given the choice at the beginning an endeavor to choose between instant success or slow and gradual success, which would you choose? I'd choose instant success every time. I've come to the conclusion it's a good thing that choice is not in my hands.

Approximately 15 months ago my wife and I published a book titled:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours? Coping With The Emotional, Relational, Sexual & Spiritual Aspects Of Prostate Cancer.
Prior to publishing this book I was aware the average self-published author sells less than 100-150 copies of their book. Given those statistics it's amazing anyone would spend hundreds of hours of their time to write a book.

For my wife and I the desire to write a book didn't originate with ourselves. We felt called to write a book to help men and couples cope with life and love without a prostate.  When I created our Facebook page
Where's Your Prostate?  to promote our book, I had no idea whether or not men world would drop by our Facebook page to share the city, state or country where their prostate was removed.

I remember starting out with fewer than 10 pages likes. Fast forward the clock 15 months. Now we've crossed over 500 page likes with many hundreds of more likes to the links we've shared about prostate cancer. New people visit our Facebook Page every day.

Each and every week I'd have to make a decision what I can I add to this page that would make people want to visit us. I'd also need to invest money in advertising which meant I'd need to evaluate which ads worked and which ads did not. Because our success was gradual rather than instant I've worked to improve what we started with many times over.

The same is true for our Pre & Post Surgery Forums.. We started out very slowly with only few people visiting our forums each week. I kept creating relevant threads based on what the needs men and couples shared with me. Each and every week our Forums changed and improved their content. Now we see approximately 3,000 visitors per month.

This blog began with very few page views, but I kept on blogging. Maybe not as much as I could have, but I kept on blogging. Very soon will have crossed over 8,000 page views.

In each and every one of these endeavors, I never achieved instant success. That didn't stop me. I was persistent. There's an old expression which goes like this: "If at first you don't succeed, try try again.
That's only half the story. In fact one could argue that's the definition of insanity. If something doesn't work, don't try it again and again. If at first you don't succeed, try again a different way, and if that doesn't work try again another way, and keep on trying until you succeed. It's that attitude which in the end sorts out those who will succeed and those who will fail.

 If you give up after a single failure you will become a failure. In this journey I've learned the value of persistence. That said, our book hasn't hit the Amazon or New York Times Best Seller List. It's highly likely it never will. However, with  persistence we continue to sell books every month. The book won three awards. We've had dozens of positive reviews from readers, and our book was called "A clear-eyed, warmhearted and extraordinarily useful guide" in Kirkus Review.

Sometimes success doesn't come from persistence, it's comes from changing the definition of success.
I'd be a failure as an author if my definition of success was making the New York Times Best Seller List.

My definition of success involves saying yes to these two questions:
1. Have I've been faithful to the task I was called to do?
2. Have I performed those tasks to the best of my abilities?

What's your definition of success? Does it harm or increase the likelihood of you being successful?