Why is it that success seems to go hand-in-hand with wealth, fame and fortune? Why does society equate success with material possessions and fame? In order to fully define success, one must first determine one’s values and morals. For the person who gravitates towards money and material goods, success must surely be rooted in avarice. On the other hand, for the person who values the intangibles in life such as family and love, success is rooted in morality. In order to properly define success, avarice and morality must be examined, for therein lies the two pronged approach to elucidating the meaning of success.

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For a large majority of the population, the most prolific aspect of success involves money and fame. If someone is wealthy, has multiple cars and lives in a mansion, then he is deemed to be successful. The character of this person is rarely called into question, and he wears the mantle of success simply based on his ability to accumulate wealth. For example, Donald Trump readily comes to mind when pondering the definition of success. Here is a man who owns hotels, runs businesses, and even stars in his own reality television series. His net worth runs in the millions, and he reportedly even has a toilet made of gold in his bathroom. Such excess seems to make him a success. What do we know of his character as a human being? To begin, he has had multiple marriages and has children from various women. Does this make him a bad person? Not necessarily, but is he just a success in the monetary sense? Very probably would be the answer to that. Tom Cruise is another example of someone who may not have his moral house in order, but he is a rousing success when it comes to the financial ledger. Tom Cruise is known worldwide for his prowess on the silver screen. He has won numerous awards, owns homes on several continents, and banks millions of dollars each year for his acting roles. Tom Cruise and Donald Trump are the epitome of success as measured in money and fame.

The measure of success for another portion of the population has its foundation in family and love. This approach to success involves a person’s character and does not necessarily involve wealth or fame although the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Billy Graham, noted for his spiritual guidance of various famous people including former United States presidents, is considered successful because of his loving relationships. Those relationships center around his family, his marriage and the teachings of Christ. When one thinks of Billy Graham, fame and fortune do not come to mind. One tends to think more along the lines of Mr. Graham’s peaceable nature and his love of humanity. He is a success because of his moral compass. The father who lovingly provides for his family and works at staying married is a success due to his moral fortitude. The parent who puts the needs of his family first and raises children who are morally upright is called successful. Success is measured in this instance through doing what is right and good.

Defining success is tenuous since there are two approaches to its meaning. On the one hand, a person’s success may be determined by his bank statement or by his sheer numbers of loyal fans or followers. Conversely, success may be measured through family, love and health. Someone with a values system that places family first may be seen as successful since he is surrounded by his loved ones. These two factors are not mutually exclusive. In other words, someone may be famous while maintaining a loving family relationship as well. The way society views success is intensely personal and determined by the individual’s values and morals.