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Iconic songwriter and music producer j.Que Smith‘s episode on the R&B Money Podcast is full of rich stories behind some of his biggest hits, but also full of nuggets of wisdom.

There are three brief, yet distinct moments within the two-hour-long episode that have the ability to transform the trajectory of your life and career. The intended audience was music creatives, but the knowledge given can (and should) apply to anyone in any given field.

You don’t want success… you want happiness.

It is very easy to assume everything in life will get better once you attain a certain level of professional or monetary success. J. Que speaks at the 46:33 mark about his thoughts on the matter, and they are sobering to say the least:

Every situation comes with its own unique challenges and success is no different. You should absolutely put in the “10,000 hours” necessary to perfect your craft, but this should not come at the expense of your health, your relationships, and/or your overall quality of life.

It’s imperative that you focus as much time and energy on your physical and mental health as you would your career aspirations. It has been well-documented that success and money will amplify and/or multiply the issues you are already dealing with; if you don’t have inner peace, more income and accolades will only make it worse.

Figure out your “why”

In tandem with the point above, there is one thing that should be prioritized over your happiness… and that is your purpose.

J. Que talks at the 52:41 mark about needing to figure out the thing that drives you:

Mark Twain famously said, “The two greatest days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.” Everyone on this planet has a unique purpose, and it is their responsibility to figure out what that is.

If you know what’s driving you, you can push through the dark times.

Success is not complicated. It’s a combination of good decisions.

Right as they’re closing out the episode, J. Que drops one last knowledge bomb for the creatives to take with them on their career journeys:

Moral of the Story

One core truth I’ve carried with me throughout my life is something my uncle told me years ago: success is found at the intersection of preparation and opportunity.

The unwritten part of that statement is a combination of every point J. Que makes in the podcast episode: identifying your true purpose, figuring out what makes you happy, putting in the work to perfect your craft(s), and having the patience to see it come to fruition.

Success is not what society says it is, what your parents believe it is, or what social media says it should be. Only you can define what success is to you, and the only way to fail at it is to stop trying.

Figure out what the work is, then do the work.


Orondé Jenkins is a multidisciplinary artist and media consultant based in Nashville. No Average Journey was born out of his desire to help artists grow in their lives and careers.