I make no claims to having lived a charmed life. There have been plenty of challenges over the years and yet they have never stopped us. Sometimes in our modern world you get the impression that you have to be famous to be successful.
I guess it depends on how you define success. Some people believe that the person with the fanciest toys is at the top of the heap. I long ago gave up on defining myself by the tools and gadgets that I need to achieve satisfaction. I cannot remember when success was being better than the next person.
I like to think that one of the great lessons that I got from my mother was that you do not work hard for the material things that it delivers but for the personal satisfaction of doing a job well. Mother frowned on families that paid their children for good grades. She always said that you are earning those grades for yourself not for money.
Somehow that helped me become my own taskmaster. I was given many assignments in my days at Apple. Most could easily have been done and the results would likely have pleased my bosses. However, I never did it for my manager. I always did it for myself and it had to meet my standards which are far harder because there are no shortcuts and it is impossible to hide less than stellar work from my own eyes.
When you are your own best competition, you never get to the top of the mountain. You are always climbing, always trying to go higher, or working to make your results better. It is not easy, but sometimes it can be very satisfying in terms that have nothing to do with money.
In 2012, we published our first travel guide to Emerald Isle. It was my very first effort with a Kindle book, and in putting the book together I soon found out that a lot of the instructions on how to do it contradicted each other. Still after a lot of work, we got it published and many people bought it. We listened to our readers and their requests. In 2013, we did a major update which included lots of maps which were the most requested feature and lots more pictures. Later in the year, we even got brave and did a print edition.
Still the book was not exactly like I wanted it to be and I started working on another update this spring. As always I learned a lot more in the process. I went back and resized all eighty images that were in the book. Then I went through and challenged myself to find a better image than what I had used in the 2013 book. I ended up replacing forty of the images with new ones. I added another beach map for clarity and rewrote many sections of the book.
In fact I rewrote the book to the point that I almost could not stand reading the words of the book, but I kept pressing forward, trying to get the book to the point that I could let it go and know that it was the best that I could do.
I ended up changing the Word template, switching fonts, and almost driving myself to distraction, but this Friday, June 13, 2014, the new Kindle version of our A Week at the Beach, An Emerald Isle Travel Guide went live. I am proud of it. It was just one day after I ordered a couple of proof copies of our color print version of the same book. The print and the Kindle versions have substantial technical differences like margins, page numbers, and image sizes. One is a PDF-X3 file and the other is a compressed HTML file.
As soon as I got the notice that the book was live on Amazon, I began another battle. I wanted Amazon to left those who bought the 2013 version have the ability to get the new version as an update. There is no technical reason why not, it is an Amazon policy thing. I still have not gotten an answer, but I had to go back to the book once again and actually provide Amazon with details and samples of the many changes that I did to the book. I hope my resolve can make it happen.
Getting my book published and to the point that I am pleased with it is another milestone for me. Some say that you only get to those milestones because you have fire in your gut. I find it more like a smoldering ember that never dies and can be fanned to a flame if need be. Ocean waves are an even better metaphor for me.
Like the waves on the beach, I never give up. I might seem calm one day and the next day I am crashing at the beach in a relentless effort to finish my work just like the waves reshape the sands along the shore.
There is no easy way to success and if you did perchance find one, you might find that an easy success has an easy failure just around the corner. If you set your own goals and they really matter to you, you will reach them because to not do so is to give up on yourself and there is no return from that.
I am on to my next goal which is to write a fiction novel. I expect it to be a good one and I am busy working on the plot during some of the perfect beach evenings that we are enjoying on the Crystal Coast.