Most of us, when we think about these phrases at all, see getting ahead and being successful as synonymous to each other. But once we scratch the surface of each and get into the meaning behind them it becomes clear that there are differences.
Getting ahead means being first, winning – so getting ahead of our debt would be a good thing, but what might each of us have to do to get ahead in our business dealings? I am competitive, mostly with myself, and if I can gain in understanding and knowledge and skill in some way or another from where I was at previously, then I am getting ahead of my own curve. I used to be more generally competitive and found that I therefore sometimes had cause to promote characteristics in myself that I don’t care for, like pointing out someone’s else’s flaws in an effort to trump up my own position. As I gained in wisdom, I decided that getting ahead isn’t for me.
Being successful could be limited to monetary gains – in some way narrowly defined materially. Or it could be much more richly and broadly defined – success should have a very personal definition for each of us. Success should include a moral and ethical component, should encompass our work and our personal self.
We could attempt to get ahead by cheating in some way, but since that is damaging to our ethics (for the majority of us) then cheating could not lead to success.
The question of how someone defines success is one that I included when I provided answers to some behavioral interview questions in an earlier series of posts. The answers can be very telling to understand if the interviewee will fit into your group dynamic. The answer can be very telling in the way that we each approach life in general. How do you define success?
I recently saw an article, sorry I didn’t save the link, which suggested that 20 and 30 somethings have little interest in getting ahead. Good for them.
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