What Breakfast With My Best Friend Taught Me About Success

Jake has been my best friend since birth. He’s that friend, the one I’d bleed for—and as scars would attest, I have. Even though we now live in separate states, we haven’t allowed the distance to separate our friendship.

Our pastime is eggs and bacon. That’s what we do.

And if there’s one thing about our breakfast summits, the eggs are always served with a side of truth. We hold nothing back. We can’t. The reality of a great friendship is that there’s no sugary coating or pretty mask to cover up our flaws. When Jake and I are together, it’s raw and it’s real—the way a friendship should be.

In a world that has become obsessed with facades and faux personas, these times refresh my soul.

Jake and his family recently vacationed about an hour south of where I live. Although our schedules didn’t allow our families to get together, we made sure to work in a Friday morning breakfast. It was just like old times—just the two of us. Little did I know our conversation that morning would expose one of my life’s greatest struggles and a sneaking suspicion behind success for all of us.

Equating Approval and Success

I begin most mornings by locking myself away in my writing room, punching keys in an attempt to bring life to the ideas that are running circles through my head. But despite my efforts, I’m plagued by the ever-present question: Why are so many of my closest friends apathetic toward my dream?

What most creatives don’t admit is that Facebook likes and Twitter retweets are as addictive as crack-cocaine. There’s a constant battle to determine our success based on the acceptance of others. And if we’re honest, the acceptance of those who know us best seems to matter the most.

Despite the fact that my blog crossed 400,000 readers and my book has sold more than 2,500 copies, my best friend Jake hasn’t subscribed or even purchased a copy of my book, Redefine Rich. Deep down, in the places I refused to write about, that hurt. As the pain grew, it gave way to fear. I started thinking about all of the friends—high school teammates, college buddies, work associates—who don’t seemed to care about my newfound passion.

As I feed my fear, it leads to doubt. Doubt becomes insecurity.

Maybe I shouldn’t be writing after all.

Maybe my dream isn’t that important anyway.

Those voices might sound silly to an outsider, but that’s the internal crap we listen to, isn’t it?

Two Eggs with a Side of Truth

On this particular Friday morning, after we’d covered life and family and careers, Jake asked how things were going. I immediately knew what he was referring to. He’d asked me before in passing conversation, but this was different. For the past two years, I’d been secretly upset that he hadn’t shown much interest. Here was the moment of truth.

I admitted that one of the hardest things for me was wondering what he thought.

I told him I’d recently read that success is “striving so that those who know you the best respect you the most.” According to that definition, I didn’t feel very successful as a writer. Without hesitation he replied, “That just somebody’s opinion, dude.”

Then, he told me exactly what I needed to hear.

“You clearly have an audience because your stuff is doing great. But that’s not why you began writing. You began writing because it was something you felt like you had to do. You’re clearly helping people, but don’t think that everyone is in your audience. Quit trying to please me. Focus on what your audience wants and give them more of that.”

He was right.

Too often, we determine success based on external measures instead of internal convictions. In turn, successes becomes quantifiable. We let the size of our platform instead of the impact of our message to determine our value. If everyone else validates what we do, then we’re a success.

But curiously, this doesn’t just apply to our passions and gifts, it applies to our wealth, our businesses, and our relationships as well. As a result, we live shackled to approval instead of free to become who we were created to be.

A Different Measure of Success

There is a real danger in living life based on the approval of others because if we’re not careful, we leverage those around us for what we desire most. When we begin leveraging people for our own gratification—using them for our validation—we become pawns to our own pride. You see this in addicts who rob the family they love to feed their destructive habits. If we’re not careful, we’ll do the same.

Jake reminded me that success isn’t always measured by the approval of those who are closest to us. Success is measured by our willingness to hold true to our deepest convictions and pour everything we have into it, regardless of what everyone else says.

If it takes strong coffee, good eggs, a great friend, and an honest conversation to remind us of these things, I’d say that’s a breakfast of champions.



If you struggle with the opinions of others and you’re looking for honest encouragement and accountability, contact us regarding our mentoring services.

Many of you requested an audio version of this post, so here it is:

For more encouragement on your journey, join our newsletter:

About the Author:

Matt Ham helps people discover a new perspective on life. He reminds us of the things we know, but often forget. It begins with the perspective that your whole life matters. Through stories that inspire hope, Matt provides perspective-shifting wisdom that will help you in your faith, your family, and your career.

His first book, Redefine Rich, is available under a limited-edition, hardback release at www.redefinerich.com

Matt Ham

Matt Ham

, , , , , , ,

  • I can so relate, I am pretty sure most of my close friends have never read much of what I write. Self-doubt is any dreamers biggest opponent. As we chase down dreams that others don’t understand. We undergo a change where we try to become who we claim to be. That is not always comfortable for them.

    • Absolutely, Charles. We have to be true to ourselves and pour into that calling.

  • Stan Stinson

    You did it again Matt! Hit me right where I needed to be hit…not that I like being hit…but I do need it from time to time (as we all do). Thanks! Keep up the good writing and hard, timely hitting those notes that people need to hear. I know it is good for you in the writing but it is good for us in the reading too.

    • Sorry for hitting you, Stan 🙂

  • BrandiKoie

    This was a really great article and one I needed to read. Your points are valid. Still, wanting your closest loved ones to support you can’t be all wrong. Take my friend Dianne for example: Dianne feels mostly neutral about playing golf, but her husband loves it. She puts importance on playing golf because it’s something her husband loves that they can do together. There is a lot of honor in that way of thinking. It is simply frustrating in this respect when those close to us don’t uplift us. I don’t disagree with you or your friend, but I also continue to relate to the you who walked into breakfast that day. Here’s to finding a good balance and keeping my eyes focused on the right spot.

    • I think you’ve touched on a key point. To some degree, I think it’s slightly different with our spouses. But there is something noble in supporting those we love. I think the trouble is when we demand or feel entitled to other’s approval/agreement in the way that WE want it. The trouble is, so many people quit before they really break through because of their expectations of others.

      • BrandiKoie

        Well said Matt. And yes, I certainly would not be able to pursue my calling without my husband’s full support. But yes, spouses are a bit different than the rest. (Please don’t judge my writing be my starting the last two sentences with conjunctions! I was in conversation mode. haha!)

  • “When we begin leveraging people for our own gratification—using them for our validation—we become pawns to our own selfishness and pride.”

    Thank you for this, Matt. It is absolutely true. Having a friend like Jake, who will give you sincere affirmation and set you straight, is a treasure.

    • It’s funny. I wanted the affirmation in my own way, but it’s almost like he gave it to me in such a better, non-generic way. I needed this so much. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • So much truth! “Don’t think that everyone is your audience.” and “Success is measured by our willingness to hold true to our deep conviction and pour everything we have into it, regardless of what everyone else says.”

  • Matt, This is it. In this post I see the next step. Great post. Great work to dig deep and move forward.

    • Thanks for the nudge, brother.

  • ashfromdablock

    Thanks for this reminder. It’s easy to give up when those closest to you are not on your bandwagon… but this is a reminder for everyone to KEEP GOING. 🙂

  • Wow, kudos to you, first-off, for having the guts to speak what was on your heart to your friend. In situations like that, I tend to just hold in those thoughts and questions that I most desperately want to ask. Something I need help with. And thanks for opening up and sharing this vulnerable part of you with us. I can relate and struggle with some of the same thoughts. Appreciate your encouragement and honesty as always.

    • Sure thing, Shawn. We can’t not talk about that stuff, you know? How’s all of your writing coming?

      • I’ve been praying a lot about direction. I recently revamped my blog and topics to try to give a better focus, but I’m trying to listen for God’s direction as I go forward. I don’t want anything to be wasted and I already see the value in what I’ve learned over my first six months. I appreciate you and others who have led the way and given a great example of what I’m striving toward.

  • Matt, this is simply excellent. Thank you for writing what so many of us think and wonder ourselves.

  • David Mike

    No words. Wow!

  • Great honest post Matt. I know it is easy for me to crave the approval of others. Not everyone is in our audience and their will always be those who just don’t get our dreams. It is especially hard for others if they are not dreamers themselves. Sadly I have known too many people (was one myself at one time) who only want to make it through the day. Dreams are are foreign concept for them.

    • There are feet and hands and eyes and ears, right? It takes all different parts of the body.

  • Love this Matt!

  • Teddy Bichon

    Jake was exactly right. It is awesome to get that type of validation from someone who knows you so well.

    More importantly, He is validating what is stirring inside you. You are making a tremendous impact in my life and many others by sharing your God-given gifts. I am better for it. I know that God has called you, and is leading you. It takes guts (and faith) to step out there. You are; you are being rewarded with affirmations such as these. God is being glorified in the process.

    Well done Matt!

  • aprilbest1981

    I am guilty of being hurt and confused that friends/family/church doesn’t seem to care about the things that are so important to me…

    I am still hurt for you that your friend de-friended you…I understand what he is saying and it makes a lot of sense but that seems drastic…

    This is great to think about and learn from though…

    • It’s almost like our friendship doesn’t fit on social media, but I expected it to. It really is great. I needed this lesson.

  • Thanks for this article! I really needed to hear this!

    • Thank you for reading and taking the time to share, Michelle.

  • Hey my friend! Super powerful post. It made me think of when Rory Vaden recently interviewed Darren Hardy. Darren run Success magazine. Some of the stuff he shared on this topic was so strong and insightful. Check it, brother – http://roryvaden.com/blog/darren-hardy-the-entrepreneur-roller-coaster-episode-93-on-the-rory-vaden-show/

    • Thanks, Joel. It’s in my lineup. @RoryVaden is awesome, isn’t he?!

  • Loved this!

  • lwwarfel

    Would that we all had such a loving friend who tells it like it is. Thanks for this. Really need to hear it today especially.

    • Amen. We had a great text exchange after he caught wind of this 🙂

  • Man, that hurts! I’ve been caught in this cycle too. But if you’re in it for reciprocity–that’s not true generosity is it?!

    • That’s it, brother. He wasn’t the problem, my expectations of him were.

  • Rebecca Rayfield

    I believe there’s a market for an audio version of this post (repeat, anyone?)! Like so many others, I needed to read this. I thought I would never click “publish” on my first post…I finally did last week. However, as this week draws near an end and I come closer to writing my next one (I promised myself one per week), I realize that the one-on-one dialogue of “yes I will, no I won’t” with myself has occurred more times than I’d care to say . Even so, I shall stick my courage to the sticking place with a steadfast and true heart to inspire and encourage others through the written (typed) word! Onward I go! Thank you for your words!

    • Thanks for the idea, Rebecca. I’ll record this on my podcast for next week!

      So what are YOU writing about?

      • Rebecca Rayfield

        My writing comes out of a saved life, healed heart and restored marriage. I haven’t always written…the Lord planted the desire in my heart just three years ago while I was in the midst of one of the most desperate times in my life, which turned out to be a miracle (isn’t that just like Him?). It’s all about His transformational presence and the work He is constantly up to!

        Oh, and hurray for the podcast!

    • Hey Rebecca. I put it on audio. Thanks for the idea!

  • Annie Palmer

    Wow. I need to read this again. Let me first say I so appreciate the truth you speak in everything of yours I read. Love the vulnerability and willingness to show that you are growing just as everyone else is. So powerful. Let me also say, thank you, I need to hear this message. So many things you said to yourself, I have heard in my self talk. If we believe in our message, that should be enough. It IS enough. Thanks, Matt!

  • Thank you, Matt! Your honest and transparent post hit me at the time I needed to hear it most.

    • Thanks for being here, Melissa!

  • Annie Palmer

    So, let me throw this out there. What if “that” person is not your friend, but a spouse? Same answer?

    • That’s a GREAT question. When the person is your spouse, I think a different dynamic takes place because marriage is a covenant between two people before God and in that covenant, there’s a call to serve and love one another. If a spouse were not supportive and loving, it shouldn’t deter the passion of the other spouse OR that spouse’s willingness to reciprocate love and support. Clear communication and clear expectations are essential. A great book is Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs (sp?)

      • Annie Palmer

        Thanks, Matt.

  • Matt, love your post here. Before I even got into this, I was struck by the commitment you two had to your friendship. That is rare and something to protect. And then the fact that you both shared what mattered was terrific.

    • Hey, Skip. A great friendship, like anything else, takes a lot of commitment and work, right?

      I really appreciate you being here and taking the time to share.

      • It definitely does, Matt. Too many people realize this too late. I’m glad to see you and your friend value it.

  • Pingback: A Reader Asked Me Three Very Difficult Questions. Here Are My Answers. | Matt Ham()

  • Pingback: We Raise Our Kids to Leave | Matt Ham()

  • Pingback: The Opinions of Others and The Curse of Approval - Matt Ham()