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Comparable Comparisons

Yesterday, on a whim, I googled the name of a high school classmate. At her website I learned about her position as a news editor at a neighborhood newspaper. This made me, a lowly intern, feel lacking. During several quiet moments that day my mind turned to ‘what could’ve been’ and ‘what have I done wrong.’

What I’ve realized is that success is a very subjective thing. Sure, she’s an editor. But, reading her Bio, she had a difficult college career. And because it wasn’t mentioned, I assume she isn’t married, as I am. And she focused on journalism, while I pursued fiction writing and have only recently began delving into nonfiction. Besides, Fast Company is a national magazine, and not a local paper. My success is different than hers, worse in some ways and better in others.

And, once again applying something personal to the business world, this perspective can be used for companies. Walstreet may reduce corporations to their net profits and earnings per share, but comparisons should be less arbitrary. Two companies may have the same profit, obviously the smaller one is more successful. And maybe a clothing company earns double than a publishing company, but the publisher’s products may be inspiring people, changing lives. And then there is charitable giving and social entrepreneurship to consider.

Just as contrasting two people’s favorite food can be tricky, a comparison of corporate success, or personal success, can be a challenge. It is the fact that one achieves success at all, which is important.

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