There are two definitions of success that influence a person: The apparent and real definitions of success.
The apparent definition of success doesn’t align with a person’s deep values. However, it appeals to him and provides a strong draw on him because it is a definition of success commonly used around him. There is a cohort effect at play. A common example of this apparent definition of success for many individuals in the U.S. is the American Dream.
The real definition of success is based on a person’s deepest values. Sometimes if a person isn’t well grounded and one with his core values, he may begin to measure success with the apparent definition of success instead of the real definition.
In moments of spiritual clarity, moral awakening, intellectual insight and foresight, a person often reverts to their real definition of success. This is when he sees life as it truly is–he sees reality as interpreted by his true and enduring core values.
But when the going gets tough or busyness happens, his senses become dull and his antennas get foggy. He begins to measure his success using the apparent instead of the real definitions.
Placing his life on the wrong scales, he naturally finds himself wanting. Confusion, frustration, regret sets it. The center no longer holds, and things fall apart. Anarchy is loosed over his soul. If these people are not careful, lives and relationships can end up ruined. Using the wrong measuring rod is key to rightly appraising and redirecting one’s life.