Finding Joy in the Success of Others

When Chris stood on the long board, the Pacific Ocean carrying him towards the beach, I couldn’t have been more proud. I think I was more excited for him than I would’ve been for myself surfing for the first time. I was his trip leader and his SCUBA instructor for a three-week trip in Baja, Mexico.

When my daughter Harper nailed (semi-nailed let’s be honest) her dance recital routine, I damn near exploded with joy.

When my wife Annie was competing in a CrossFit competition, and I was at home watching the kids, I followed the social media reports every second. I could’ve done a happy dance when I saw that she won, but I was putting Harper to bed.

When my son Griffin spelled his first word…

When a friend publishes a book…

When a friend gets a promotion…

When my mom taught her first yoga class…

When my dad started a new business…

When my 12-year-old nephew fasted for the entire Black Friday Fast…

When my brother has a kid…

When a cousin gets married…

I find joy in their success.

(Don’t get me wrong, I’m petty, too. There are people who have success and I feel the opposite of joy, as much as I hate to admit it. But this post isn’t about jealousy and pettiness.)

In our lifetime, there’s only so much personal success that each of us will have. So there’s a limit on the joy we can find in our own accomplishments. But when we find joy in the success of others, there’s no limit.

I was reminded of the above this weekend when I was on a writing retreat with a few friends I’ve made over the years through the Midwest Writers Workshop.

2016 Writing retreat


From left to right:

Lisa Wheeler is working on a novel she started thirty years ago!

Terri DeVries has written a book on grief and is working on a novel.

Irene Fridsma treated us to a fireside reading of her poetry from her latest collection.

Kelly Stanley was working on a project I won’t discuss, but has written two other books, one of which is Praying Upside Down.

Sarah Schmitt is the author of It’s a Wonderful Death about a sassy teen whom Death kills by accident.

Joe Roper is the author of The Morus Chronicles, which follows young Ethan Morus as he discovers his powers as a treasure hunter.

Me. I was working on a super secret fiction book that I may never share with the world. Why fiction? I had questions that no amount of global travel and research could answer.

Dan Johnson is the author of four mystery books set in early 20th century Detroit.

I’ve watched each of these individuals grow as writers and have found joy in their work and in their successes. My life is richer and more joy-filled because they are in it.


As Director of Midwest Writers Workshop, I so love this post and these people. I am in awe of their skill and passion and commitment as writers, and I’m grateful that our conference brought them together as friends. Beyond anything else, MWW is about building a community and a tribe. The power of writers who come together to laugh, share, inspire, and support each other is what makes magic happen.

Kelsey says:

Jama, thanks for all of your hard work that creates an environment for connections and friendships like this to happen.

Let your voice be heard!