The Way We Spell Success

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There is a BBQ place here in town that gets very good reviews in a number of places and I’d like to use it as a jumping off point this Foodie Friday. I’ve been there a couple of times and don’t like it. In fact, I brought a buddy of mine who knows about things smokey and delicious to eat there and he didn’t care for it either.  When asked my opinion about it, I usually recommend two other nearby places that I think are way better.

Is this place a failure?  Of course not.  And that’s a good reminder to us all.

The ways in which we measure success are as varied as the number of individuals doing the measuring.  The BBQ joint is profitable and well-reviewed, two common measures.  I have no idea if the folks running it are fulfilled by their labor, another measure, or if the folks who work for them think highly of them as people and employers, two more measures.  You see where I’m going.

Calling someone “successful” imposes your standards – they make a lot of money, they built three companies, etc.  My standards might be very different.  There’s a guy I know with a shop in town who won’t cut his long-time staff members even though many of them sit around not doing much in lean times.  He has less money to spend on himself as a result and the shop needs updating which he can’t afford right now.  He’s a huge success in my eyes.

The lawyers reading this understand the terms “mala in se” and “mala prohibita.”  It’s the difference between things that we pass laws to make bad and things which we’d all think are bad with or without laws.  I’d argue that success needs to be “bonum in se” – inherently good:  personal fulfillment, having integrity, that sort of thing.  My opinion of how successful the BBQ place is could change the next time I go and the food is a lot better.  The real measures of the joint’s success have not a lot to do with either that food or my opinion.

Have a successful day!

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