By John Smith

Recently, I heard it said, “It’s our definition of great that’s the problem.” While it was shared in a specific context, that statement prompted me to think of how I define other things in my life. Whether it’s greatness, success, wealth, love, or any other such concept that people often hope to achieve, the definition can make all the difference in the world. 

Take success for example. It is often measured by the size of the house, cost of the car, brand of the clothes, and/or the degree or title that follows one’s name. Yet, what we often don’t know is if that person is in debt up to their proverbial eyeballs, if they’re over-extended, or possibly an overlording micromanager only focused on dollars, for whom no one wants to work. The surface things point to “success,” but beneath the surface, it may be a much different story. 

What about wealth? It’s historically associated with money or possessions; yet, I’ve heard too many stories of people who have more money than they know what to do with but are unhappy or have lost relationships with their loved ones because of it. Is a person wealthy if they have financial wealth alone? What about the person who has little in terms of possessions or wealth but has a loving, caring family? Again, it goes back to our definitions. It’s not to say that there aren’t financially wealthy people with loving families – there are. The point is that we need to review our definitions from time to time. Review what we are using to measure things like success, wealth, love, influence, friendship. Take the long view so you can look back over a life that hasn’t been superficial but one that’s been invested in others, meaningful, and worthwhile. So, let me ask you… how are you defining the things that matter?

Our guest columnist this month is John Smith, an Operations Supervisor at Fleenor Security Systems. Originally from Michigan, John lives in Knoxville with his wife and three daughters.