It matters far less what a person does in life than how they do it. An exploitative corporate executive might have an expense account and a fancy title, but we all admire the hardworking and selfless teacher more. And we certainly acknowledge that, whatever the differences in salary, one contributes far more to society.
In the Book of Proverbs, there is a line about a man diligent in his business. He standeth before kings, it says. It’s a beautiful image and one worth making sure our kids are familiar with. Because it’s so easy to get the wrong message–especially in a world of social media–and easy to end up worshiping the wrong thing.
The athlete coasting on their natural talents? They might still be rich, still be famous, but they’ve got nothing on the athlete who claws their way back from injury, who made it first as a walk-on, then as a bench player, and then broke through in the biggest season of their life. Tell your kids the story of the janitor–the guy just like the one at their school–who managed to build an $8M fortune by saving and savvy investing over the years. Tell them about the people who were mediocre students but who, once they found something they loved, dedicated themselves to it completely and made incredible things.
It doesn’t matter what business they go into, what matters is that they work hard at it. What matters is that they realize their potential. What matters is that their work matters, that it’s for a purpose they believe in, that they believe it makes the world a better place. And it’s worth pointing out that all of this is true for you too…and that it’s never too late to make a change–in habits or in professions–if you don’t believe you’re living up to that standard.