Clarity Vs Control – The Better Newsletter #6


I was talking with a woman who is in the midst of growing her speaking career, and bootstrapping it with her current job.

She told me, “I worry because I’m pouring a lot of effort and money IN and not getting much money or results BACK OUT.”

I suggested she watch the commencement speech Neil Gaiman gave for Pennsylvania’s University Of The Arts, because he speaks honestly of his frustrations with his career.

He finally asked himself, “What can I control?” and had an epiphany.

He couldn’t control many aspects of his career, all he could control was his commitment to MAKE GOOD ART.

When I ask clients about their goals, many say they want a bestselling book, to give a TED talk, or to build a multi-million dollar business.

I suggest that in addition to external barometers of success, they establish some emotional barometers as well.

Some ask why that’s important and I tell them, “We can’t 100% control whether our book becomes a bestseller, whether we get asked to give a TED talk, or whether we become a CEO.

If that is our measure of success and it doesn’t happen, we may feel like a failure.

What we CAN control is the positive difference we make and what’s wise is to measure our success by MEANING rather than by MONEY.

The good news is, you can control the amount of meaning and joy you feel. All you have to do is pour yourself into making good art and doing quality work that adds value for all.

When you do that, you will have the deep internal satisfaction of knowing you and your work matters… which is one of the key ingredients to making life BETTER.


  1. Get out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of the page.
    • On the left side, write down your external barometers of success (TED talk, bestseller, etc.)
    • On the right side, write down your emotional barometers of success.
  2. Allow your perspective to shift…
    • Instead of asking yourself “How hard do I work? How many hours did I put in this week?”
    • Ask yourself “How much joy do I feel? Who did I positively impact this week?”

Here’s to being better.

Until next time,
Sam Horn

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