To test yourself, think about the following hypothetical scenarios.
Who would you say is truly successful?
Alex owns a business. He is honest, hardworking, and courteous. Alex’s business has flourished, and as a result, he and his family live comfortably.
Cal owns a similar business, and he makes far more money than Alex. In an effort to beat the competition, though, Cal has become a workaholic and has numerous illnesses.
Janet is a middle-school student who studies diligently and loves to learn. As a result, she gets good grades.
Ellen gets even better grades than Janet and is an honor-roll student—but she cheats on tests and has little real interest in her education.
If you said that Cal and Ellen—or all four individuals—were successful, you might be measuring success by results only, regardless of the means by which those results were achieved.
On the other hand, if you chose only Alex and Janet, you probably measure success by a person’s character traits and work ethic. It makes sense to do so. Consider the following examples.
Which is better for Janet’s long-term welfare—that she get the highest grades or that she nurture a love of learning?
Which is better for Alex’s children—that they have everything money can buy or that they have a father who shows that he values spending time with them?
The bottom line: False success is based on image; true success is based on proper values.