Is Success a Bad Idea? (Pizzamas Day 9 of 10)

Is Success a Bad Idea? (Pizzamas Day 9 of 10)


I’m not sure if I really got to the point I was trying to get to in this video…I had to cut a good bit out to fit it into four minutes. But I guess I feel like when people compliment me on my success they are putting me inside of a certain worldview that I don’t believe in, but that is seen as universal by them.

What I think is important is financial and social security. But being perceived by society as important is a really weird thing to base “success” on because it is necessarily something that only a small percentage of the population can have. Not because people don’t have the important skills and talents, and not because they aren’t dedicated and amazing and helpful, but because it comes down to the distribution of finite resources.

Whether those resources are money or the control of others or the attention of others, basing a person’s value on the unequal distribution of those resources is a bad idea and I don’t want to be a part of that system, or a part of the way that people justify it to themselves or to society.

If I am successful, it is because I have accomplished many of the things I have set out to accomplish and those things have had positive impacts on people’s lives. I am certainly not unique or special in having done that…in fact, I would say, the vast majority of people are successes when that definition is used, which is a thing that I truly believe. I think most people die successful, and I think imagining a world in which success is some kind of rare commodity is wrong.

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20 Responses

  1. phillip long says:

    Thanks Hank.

  2. Kiokio says:

    Having a nerdfightersign-cursor for my pc would make me feel succesfull,
    someone able to make&share one? :’)

  3. ReyReyloads says:

    Is success a bad thing? No. It is the inevitable event that happen to
    people that are driven to work. There are a vast number of people that
    CANNOT be successful. I see it every day. People that lack the desire to do
    anything but work at the grocery store their whole life, make a family and
    die. I see it everyday. The main difference between those people and driven
    people is solely education and a long family line of un-education. Can they
    change? No. Can their children change? Maybe and hopefully. But at the same
    time, if they are successful in their own mind, then all power to them.

  4. Anni we says:

    Life itself is a success. To me, every good person on this planet is a
    success. And I think that really is something everybody should want to
    achieve: being a good person.

  5. Sean Blanks says:

    This is why we value you.

  6. Sahil Tejwani says:

    I wish i had a elder brother like you.

  7. Clellie Irwin says:

    I notice that the older I get and the more I see of the world, the less
    fame appeals to me. As I discover who I am and form valuable relationships,
    I recognize that my happiness wouldn’t be increased by fame, and it’s no
    longer something I desire even remotely. That’s a relief.

  8. Metabeard says:

    Success is self defined. It often is a moving scale, so achieving success
    isn’t really a thing, but it is something to be sought for.

  9. Alyssa Alden says:

    In a related movement Strayer University is petitioning Merriam-Webster to
    change their definition of success. To sign their petition:

  10. Entraya Korsbakke says:

    Hank, I think most people would define your success as your ability to be
    an awesome person, and then managing to get that awesomeness across to more
    people, and inspiring them to do the same. And being an awesome person in
    and of itself has nothing to do with how many has achieved the same, how
    many people know of it, or whatever. You’re a successful human being

  11. nathalie alexandra Tcherdak says:


  12. Wilson Schreiber says:

    If you’re still in New Hampshire, let’s get pizza!

  13. Zack The Wizard says:

    As someone who is just beginning to pay off their student loan debts (which
    is not a lot compared to other people. This is going to be a long
    parentheses, but I am currently working two part time jobs and can
    comfortably pay off my debts while also saving a small amount of money) I
    feel that I am just beginning my journey on the road to what I define as
    success, which is being able to wake up in the morning not having to worry
    if I can get out of bed the next day because of the cocktail of stressful
    things that surround my life such as finding a good job where I can move
    out of my parent’s house or something that I will be happy doing. To me,
    success is not having to worry about the burdens of life and simply enjoy
    it. For me, that means having a modest place to call my own that I can live
    comfortably in, not a huge house with the newest car, hell it doesn’t even
    have to be a big house, just a place that is mine and resources that I can
    provide for myself. For some, that is putting the bar very low, and I am
    not from a low income family for those of you wondering, but to me, nothing
    makes me happier than owning something that I got by myself. In the past
    that has been everything from candy to video games, to gas money and
    clothes. I am not at that point yet, and that has got me pretty down right
    now, but I am working towards it hoping to one day achieve it. Hank, you
    have surpassed my definition of success so you have every right to enjoy
    it. To me, you are not just surviving, but thriving. Some people are just
    trying to achieve the former.

  14. Marlie Rogers says:

    Omg I was just in New Hampshire!!! :0

  15. Misha “El sol de oro” Vernon says:

    These vlogs are getting deep!

  16. Coki Austin says:

    i am by tom shadiac is a good movie

  17. Laety x says:

    I’m a cosplayer, and the cosplay world is a horrible place when it comes to
    striving for fame. Since you see big cosplayers everywhere you go, new
    cosplayers understandably also want to be famous for it. However, not
    everybody can be famous, and the people who got famous didn’t only get
    famous because of their talent or the work they put into it. There’s also a
    big part of it that’s straight up luck. Knowing the right people. Being in
    the right financial situation. I mean, being paid for your hobby sounds
    amazing, of course! But you can’t really only do something only to
    eventually get famous for it, because you probably won’t become famous.

  18. bicooo1 says:

    WHAT, IT’S COMING TO AN END ALREADY? That went sooo fast

  19. CullTheLivingFlower says:

    I like what you said about luck. I personally tend to ascribe more to luck
    than most people. I like to say that the difference between poor and rich
    people is not hard work but rather that the rich people we lucky to be put
    in a situation where their hard work was rewarded. I think people who are
    successful tend to overstate the link between hard work and success because
    they want to believe there is some justice in poverty and that if only poor
    people worked harder they would be successful too. I think this is
    unfortunate and in some cases dangerous. I’ve known too many hard working
    people who have little to nothing to show for it to buy into that way of
    thinking and I wish more people did too.

  20. Amy Asendorf says:

    Love this video, Hank. I’m currently a seminary student, and I’ve been
    thinking a lot about the ways in which our capitalist culture imposes a
    distorted paradigm of scarcity: a culture that tells us that if “others”
    are receiving resources, or privilege, or recognition, or success- that
    somehow this diminishes our own resources, or privilege or success. This is
    the false paradigm that capitalism feeds us: better get ahead, because
    there’s not enough to go around.

    But what would happen if we adopted instead a paradigm of abundance- a
    culture that operates on the promise that there is always enough to go
    around? How much more generous would we be…how much more encouraging and