05 August 2012

Categorizing Success

Not infrequently do I read about someone or hear someone described as being "a successful ____", whether that is a lawyer, doctor, businessman, etc.  What is unclear from such descriptions is how are they successful?  Now, since they are being described alongside their professions, it is reasonable to infer that they are professionally successful in their fields.
         However, there are many facets in one's life and one can be successful or unsuccessful in them.  One can be physically successful, one could be spiritually successful, or yet another is intellectually successful, etc.
        In light of the above, it makes one wonder why, in the news media, someone's professional success characterizes them by the describer. One possibility is that it is merely the simplest way to describe their successfulness (but then what if they have an unsuccessful family life?); another is that if the describer were to say the describee is professionally successful, it could make them wonder about aspects of that person's life that may be unsuccessful (such as an unsuccessful social life); and one last possibility is that the news medium is not particularly concerned about the totality of this person's life, rather just seeing them as them qua their profession.
      One thing I hear, whether in the news media or even when people are speaking, is that they want to go to school and become successful. Presumably, they want to be successful professionally, but it would be wise of them to consider their efforts going toward becoming overall successful, whether emotionally, socially, spiritually, or otherwise.


Shira Salamone said...

I would consider it very fortunate to have only my professional success discussed in public. Heaven help the poor celebrity who can hardly even get a haircut without discussions regarding his/her new appearance appearing in some tabloid.

Drew_Kaplan said...

When I hear/read about people who are described as successful, I often think that what is meant is professionally, but have they sacrificed a good, quality, meaningful time with their families and being a good parent both to their children and in relationship with their spouses? What about their spiritual or moral health? Someone can be a successful businessman, but be dishonest. Also, what about someone who is tremendously successful as an accountant, but in horrible physical shape?
I really wasn't trying to have a variety of aspects of someone's life laid out there in public inasmuch as I wanted a delineation that they were professionally successful and that that didn't necessarily mean they were leading entirely successful and fulfilling lives.