There is a John Lennon song from his 1980 Double Fantasy album called Woman which talks about the meaning of success. John did not have a perfect life and he died much too young. As someone who achieved so much in the world of music with fame and fortune, John was clearly a success. We know he had rocky times with his first wife and later with Yoko Ono, but it seems he was able to navigate those rough patches and reach a new level with Yoko before he died. His song Woman was definitely written for her, thanking her for the guidance she had given him in helping him to wake up to the true meaning of success.
I find this song particularly relevant to my own writing and my own thinking about where we are headed as a species. The indigenous have told us that we need to incorporate more feminine values into our culture if we are to survive. I believe this is true. I also believe that it is not only possible but actively taking place.
I have experienced extraordinary success in multiple areas of my life. Despite following a relatively conservative path of going to private schools such as Yale and Harvard, and taking a Fortune 500 executive position with Harcourt Brace when still a young man, I have always felt that I have been a pioneer and a risk taker. I started my literary agency in San Diego, California at a time when very few literary agents outside of New York City had any meaningful success. I became an expert on computer books at a time when the majority of book agents and book publishers had little if any interest in such books. I drifted into representing mind body spirit books when such titles were still not mainstream. Success has followed me in all these areas, but the real success of my business life has been in the relationships I have formed with authors, editors, and publishers.
There have been a few exceptions, but for the most part I like and respect everyone with whom I have done business. The majority of books I have represented have helped people in some way. I have enjoyed the economic privileges that come from representing major bestselling authors, and I would not feel the same about my career and position in the world of publishing and the world at large had I not had such significant and measurable public success. But in the end the true meaning of success will be in what is left behind, in the number of people I have helped, in the good that has come from the books I have helped get published.
I am moving increasingly into the area of public speaking and my own writing. I will continue to agent books but increasingly take on fewer and fewer new clients. I am open to the extraordinary, but the extraordinary will be judged by the impact that can be made, not necessarily by the number of copies that will be sold. I will also continue to use our e-book publishing company to bring new voices to the general public. The newest voices I will be publishing next month will be dolphin voices. I kid you not. I have the honor and privilege of publishing the first book written by dolphins. There will be doubters. Major publishers will probably not want to pick up our e-book. But be on the lookout for Dolphin Letters: Vital Information from Sea to Land. Of course there is a human go-between who took down the dolphin communication. I will be writing more about this unique author and book later this month. Suffice to say, the dolphins truly understand the meaning of success. To quote John Lennon again, “Perhaps I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one.”
Imagine and succeed.