On praising people, and on success

This morning I was pointing out to friends how excellent is mako's post on Aaron Swartz, and I thought it'd be nice if we didn't have to wait for people to die before telling the world how awesome and inspirational they are.

Then Russ posted an article about work, success and motivation and I went to tell my friends how awesome and inspirational he is.

I, too, see myself as somehow successful, and I, too, don't identify in the usual stereotype of success. I don't want to stop being a craftsman to become a manager, I don't get a high from having power over other people, I don't define my value in terms of my profits.

At a glance, people don't see me as successful, until they get to know me better. They they realise that I'm not at all unhappy about my life.

I have a job that I like, I write Free Software and it gets used and appreciated, my colleagues are friends, who respect me and my opinion, and I respect them and theirs.

I can work from home. In fact, I can work from everywhere as long as I have my laptop with me. I can sustain a long distance relationship because I can work from the house of my partner when I'm visiting. Two days ago I worked from the bar of a farm on top of a hill, because I was on the road, it was close by, and what the hell, it's a wonderful place to be.

To me success means that I can care about the quality of my life, that I have the luxury of caring about little things that make my day, of trying to make good ideas sustainable, of working a bit more when I'm on fire, and of working a bit less when there's something wonderful in the world to see, or someone interesting in the world to meet.

Russ, the way I read your article, you are questioning what "success" means, and you are spot on. People should be able to define "success" as whatever works for them and pursue it freely. Only then success becomes something that is worth praising when it is achieved. Only then it becomes inspirational.

I like how you managed to put into words something that has been for a long time in some corner of my mind and I hadn't yet managed or bothered to bring into the spotlight.

You have the insight and the confidence of seeing something in an insightful but non-mainstream way, and say "you know what? That actually makes sense."

Sometimes I read your post, nod a lot and realise how important something actually is, how that is actually such an important part of myself. And now that you took it out for me to see it, I can appreciate how valuable it is, and make sure I don't accidentally lose it.

Thanks! That's another one I owe you. It's just the kind of thing I shouldn't wait before letting you know.