Success is relative. It depends entirely on ones definition of the term. One man’s success is another man’s sell-out. One mans fortune is another man’s ticket to ruin.
Living in a culture that values wealth above all else, it is no surprise that success has come to be measured by dollar signs, or fame; not necessarily to people of depth and substance, but to the culture in general. Personal success has taken a back seat to financial achievement. Sure, they can go hand in hand, but the likelihood that both will come to fruition is minimal at best. Those seeking wealth and status above all else most often do so on the backs of those less driven, to the detriment of their own families, and to the compromise of themselves. It is the rare individual who accomplishes both successfully.
What has long been lacking in our culture, and particularly in the last twenty years, is the quest for greatness, replaced, as it were, by the quest for success (fame, notoriety, and wealth). And in today’s world it is actually fame and notoriety that are most sought after, knowing that wealth will most likely follow. It seems that for those who achieve fame wealth does not even need to be earned. It just comes to them with the branding, the use of name and likeness, and the media deals that are thrown at their swollen feet like rice at a wedding. Everyone, it seems, wants to be connected to fame. It is a sad state of affairs, but, nevertheless, a universal and all-too-familiar indulgence.
Greatness, however, is much different. It is a goal achieved quietly, and with a measure of humility. It is not about fortune or fame. It’s more about doing something, and doing it well; taking pride in what you’re doing whether it brings you riches or not. In a perfect world it would be something you love to do. But if not, you would still do it to the best of your ability. You would want to be good at it. It’s where greatness begins in the material world.
Greatness, however, is also about the character of a man. It is about his intentions, and his efforts; efforts to love, the unlovely as well as those who are more easily embraced. It is about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is about compassion, and forgiveness. It is about acceptance of others. Greatness is unattainable to those whose only concerns are for themselves, and their own interests. They are flawed people, no matter how much accomplishment and notoriety they may have attained, or how much money they might have accumulated.