Does money corrupt? Does power corrupt? At heart are we defined more by our failures than our successes? Or do both shape us in equal yet antithetical ways?
I once knew a very successful man. He had the Midas touch: Nothing was ever hard; everything came to him on a silver platter. He never failed. He never fell. Nothing was ever denied him. Ever. He expected his achievements. He assumed people would pander to him. And he was a three ring douche circus, complete with side shows and penny attractions. But was he born that way? Or did his success shape him?
We often look at success as a measure of worth. But all the best people I know have been knocked back by life more times than they can remember. I count myself among them. And I, like many others, wouldn’t trade every bad experience I have had for the world. They have made me the person I am. They have taught me the hard lessons (the ones I wouldn’t believe no matter who told me or how often I heard them).
Perhaps struggling, toiling, trying, hoping and failing are what makes us rounded, wholesome, ethical people. Perhaps our values are based on our trials. Perhaps our heartbreaks are what teach us humility and compassion.
Perhaps one of the worst things a person can suffer in life is always getting what they want.
Maybe, in the end, that is what truly corrupts the successful.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” – Lord Acton, 1887