The Moral Issue behind How We View Success, Wealth, and Money.

What do you think about when you hear the word “success?”

Do you think about being wealthy? Do you think about having a lot of money?  Do you see a difference between these three things?

I am currently reading (again) Think and Grow Rich, by Napolean Hill.  I think the title would have been more accurate if it were named Think and Grow Successful, since the principles he teaches apply to being successful in more than just the acquisition of money, but I don’t think it would have sold as well, which is probably why it has the title it does.

Because of what I’m reading in this book, I was wondering this morning about the three concepts of money, success, and wealth, how they are related, and how they are different.  I found myself asking these questions:

  1. Is there a difference between being wealthy, being successful and having a lot of money?
  2. Can you have a lot of money and not be wealthy?
  3. Can you be wealthy and not successful?
  4. Can you be successful and not be wealthy?
  5. Can you be wealthy and not have a lot of money?

I would love to read how you answer these questions, so please comment.  Here are the answers I came up with for myself:

  1. Yes
  2. Not for long – if you have money and do not use it to gain wealth, you will eventually run out of money.
  3. Not for long – if you are wealthy and do not use it to be successful, you will eventually lose your wealth.
  4. Not for long – if you are successful you will become wealthy.
  5. Only with intentional effort – Money is a resource that is easily obtained and useful for exchange by design.  Avoiding money while wealthy would take intentional effort and IMO, would be wasteful and an irresponsible use of your other resources.

I believe some clarification of terms and what I mean when I use them is in order.

Success – I’m referring to a condition, not an occurrence – the consistent habit of accomplishing definite purposes.

Wealth – the abundance of things/people/resources that bring wellbeing in any way into your life.

Money – the physical representation of the value you have created for others, from their perspective, more than the value you have consumed from others.
In the form of an equation:
money = (value created for others from their perspective) – (value consumed from others)

Now, I don’t think I am making a big stretch by saying that what I’ve said about money and also applies to Success and Wealth.  I make the assertion that to intentionally avoid any of these three is just as immoral as using any of them for immoral purposes.

Some will bring up the biblical principle that the love of money is the root of all evil, and to them I don’t disagree.  I wonder what is meant, however, by “the love of money.”  Is this forbidden love agápe, éros, philía, or storgē?  For now, I’m not going to answer.  I would love your input since I’m still processing…