A bright intelligent professional of my acquaintance regrets not being a success. I suspect that to this person, success involves a sizable suburban house with a white picket fence, one or two European cars, a photogenic family, foreign travel and career recognition.
I plead guilty to hankering after some recognition for the work I do. I labor obscurely on an economic weekly dealing primarily with unemployment and poverty.
My dream was to be managing editor of The New York Times. I couldn't even get an op-ed piece published by the Gray Lady. Then again, last I heard the Nobel committee had bypassed me for the Peace Prize yet again.
But let's be clear. My dream of being the NYT managing editor wasn't because in that lofty position I would be able to afford Armani suits costing way more than I spend for food in a month.
Rather, I thought I would be able to steer the finest journalism in the world to even greater heights, performing a public service, unmasking wrongdoing, pointing out tragedies that are going unaddressed, holding the feet of government, business and so-called charities to the fire. Admittedly, Jill Abramson did that very nicely without me.
Similarly, I am proud of my progeny not for the money they make, but for the essentially principled lives they lead. They are successful in this.
This, I submit is the true meaning of success: living a life with a purpose that in some way, no matter how little noticed, attempts to serve the betterment of humanity.