Ok, today we’re laying the cards out on the table. We’re getting honest today about our perception of money and how we measure success. A week ago, I was with someone, and a contemporary of ours drove by in a fancy new sports car. The person I was with said, “Huh look… he made a lot of money and immediately bought the shiny new sports car.” I sensed a tinge of jealousy in that person’s voice. Like instead of sharing in their success and appreciating their talent, this person was envious.

how do you measure success

So… here is the fence question today: If someone works hard, and “makes it,” as some would label it, should they not be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labor? Is it considered showy if they enjoy fast boats, or fancy cars or big houses? And, do we perceive people with money differently if they are trust fund babies like Paris Hilton, who show up in a pink Bentley convertible (we imagine she has all this because her last name is Hilton)? Or when a self-made humble billionaire like Bill Gates shows up in a fancy car… does it evoke less strong of a reaction because he is humble, self made and un-showy?

And while I did sense jealousy in the person who made that comment, I find there is a point to the “nouveau riche” group as we call them. People who “made it” it recent years and sometimes feel the need to show that they have arrived, and can now keep up with the Jonses. Whereas, people who come from “old money,” another label, tend to live much more below the radar. My father has a friend who is on Canada’s wealthiest list… but he drives a beaten up old car and you would NEVER imagine he has what he does. He is an example of grass-roots success and humility. Do we respect these people more? Do we like these people better because they don’t rub it in our faces?

Often, when we measure success, our egos get in the way… and we compare our very worst to someone’s very best. And our feelings of entitlement get in the way…. But the truth is, everyone is entitled to their own dance, no matter what that looks like, and no one has the right to judge. I think if there is anything I hope you’ll take away from this Blog post, it’s that it’s NOT our right to judge the way other people conduct their lives. And that old cliche rings true… you cannot judge someone until you have walked in their shoes.

perception of money

So how should one measure success?

Well think about our professors and scientists who are teaching our children, and who are fighting every day to find a cure for cancer, for example? Aren’t these people exceptionally successful? I think they take success to a whole new level. And what defines success? You can’t measure success by a car or a house or a diamond bracelet. That’s not a measure of success. When I think back to my childhood, I have the fondest memories of sitting with my grandfather, as he sewed name labels on my clothes, or was making my grandmother a beautiful scarf. While he was a man of humble means, to me, there was no bigger success than him. He was a gentle, kind and caring man, and for me, this WAS success.  In fact, he could do exactly what the man in the amazing children’s book, Something From Nothing, by Phoebe Gilman could do. If you don’t own this book, I suggest you buy it for your children. It will teach them amazing life lessons.

So today, the point of the Blog is to say, no matter what your perception of success is, I think we are ALL successful in our own way.  We all make this world go around… every single one of us. And you will meet all types as you proceed through your journey… nice, kind, evil, snobby, showy, humble, caring, selfish, loving. But it is YOUR duty to make your time on earth count, and enjoy what you DO have to the fullest, without letting your emotions get in the way. So the next time someone drives by in that fancy car, regardless if they got it because it was handed to them, or if they worked their butt off for it, honor their achievements. The true perception of success is to honor your own talent and beauty and to never compare.

Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone. If you’re around, tune into CBC Radio this Sunday morning at 8:40am. I’ll be talking book, blog and life in general! FM 88.5 or www.CBC.ca/allinaweekend.

And tell us, how do YOU measure success? What is your perception of money and success? We’d love to know.