The emotional journey of success is fraught with ups and downs. As a pregnant lady trying to come up with blog material, I watch a lot of Cupcake Wars. Every episode is a mini exposé to the inner turmoil of human failure, broken dreams, and shattered egos. That and artfully designed cupcakes.
Here are nine quotes revealing the journey we all take on our road to success.
1.) “Hi! My name is Blank Blankerton, owner of Blank Blank Cakes in Blankia, USA. No one makes better cupcakes than Blank Blank. I can’t wait to show the judges what we can do.”
This symbolizes everyone at the launch of their journey. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed trailblazers full of butter creamed delight. We have skills. We have talent. We have HUNGER! But most of all we have
arrogance confidence. We know we will succeed.
2.) “I deserve to win Cupcake Wars because I’m creative, hardworking, smart, and bold.”
Guess what? All of your competitors are too. Except maybe one of the other competitors went to culinary school, or has recipes going all the way back to Thomas Jefferson, or once cooked for Aslan in Narnia.
Here’s the thing: There is always going to be someone better than you. Always. The point of success isn’t to be better than others, it’s to be your best.
3.) “My first cupcake is a tomato-basil cupcake with a whipped-salmon ganache filling, drywall putty frosting, and a baby toe as a garnish.”
“We’re going to play it safe. My first cupcake is a chocolate cake with chocolate chips, chocolate frosting, and chocolate-covered chocolate as a garnish.”
We’ve all heard this: the higher the risk the higher the reward. But the higher the risk, the higher the risk, too. Risk is great. We should all take risks. But not everything we do should be risky. We should not slap together a middle-grade erotic fable anymore than we should use drywall putty as frosting.
On the other hand your goal is not to make people say, “seen one vampire romance, seen ’em all” either. Find balance.
4.) “I look around at everyone else’s cupcakes and I think ‘we got this’.”
The only time you should compare yourself to others is never. This is a common mistake. Often times we think we can determine our self-worth by examining the worth we’ve put on others.
Positive or negative, it is useless to compare. It either brings jealousy or a false sense of self-importance. Also no one likes a snob, and no one is more worthy of falling from their pedestal than someone who rubs our noses in their champagne-frosted snobbery.
5.) “Oh my God, I forgot to put sugar in my batter. I have to start over. There isn’t time for this!”
Then we hit a stumbling block. A place we’ve failed. Our first instinct is to assume it’s ALL over. We’ve ruined any chance we had. But then we break for commercial and somehow we have time to start over and this batter is even better than before!
6.) “My assistant isn’t working fast enough/made the batter wrong/keeps getting in my way/is making me so mad!”
Cupcake Wars is full of bakers playing blame games. The fact of the matter is: true leaders don’t blame because they know they themselves are to blame. The leader picked said assistant after all. The leader charged them with making a compote that ended up burned. The leader did not communicate effectively which led to the creation of three peanut butter frostings.
Real leaders take responsibility and guide the way out of the muck and mire toward a brighter future.
7.) “Your cupcake is like biting into a tire. Your frosting tastes like my acid re-flux. Your ganache is stuck on my uvula.”
Now we’ve been judged and good God is it unjust! Our first reaction is to get defensive, then get angry. This is natural and something everyone will feel at some point. Guess what? It doesn’t end. Criticism never goes away, so the only mind you have to change is your own. You have to understand what criticism to take and what to cast aside. Not everyone will love what you do (see number 2) but your success isn’t for everyone else.
It’s for yourself.
You cannot achieve happiness through success, but you can achieve success through happiness.
8.) “My Bloody Mary batter is coagulating. I can’t serve this to the judges.”
Finally we’ve reached a place where we understand we aren’t God’s gift to sugary confections. We are mere mortals, at the mercy of the natural world just as much as alligator fetuses (’cause their sex is determined by temperature). We understand that we control little except our own attitude. We are open to working hard, keeping our heads down, and not gawking at other people’s cupcakes. We understand that we are responsible for the things we create and have an obligation (if we want to achieve success) to make those things the very best we can.
9.) “I have to win this. I need that ten thousand dollars.”
Unless you are in deep with some guy named Kinicky down at the docks for twenty grand you do not need ten thousand dollars. You want it.
Success is often measured by monetary recompense. The more money, the more success. But—especially in the creative field—money won’t be the measure of your success. It will be an irregular, maybe even disappointing, return. This is why you should never, NEVER, determine your worth or success with money. But rather you should redefine what success means to you. Maybe it’s your creative freedom, the leadership roles you’ve attained, the respect from your peers, or the good you are doing in the world.
10.) “I can’t believe I won.”
The journey to attain success is filled with potholes, so many that by the time you finally reach it, you may miss it. Unlike on Cupcake Wars, real-life success is often a slow ascension. So slow that you might wake up one day and suddenly realize that you’ve been successful all along. Successful spouses, successful friends, successful emotionally, spiritually, and physically. And all that led you to waking up fulfilled.
And it may surprise you that in the end, that is what success really is.