Success is often measured by numbers. When we were young, our test scores dictated our success in school. When we got older and entered the workforce, our measure of success were often the number representing production units, number of goods sold, or even the number of subordinates working for us. Of course, for many people, the number in their bank account measured their sense of success.
We like rankings. So ranking of profitability industry, company or individuals often finds keen interest from the general public. We generally think that if we just made more money than we do now, certainly, we will feel more sense of success. Money is easy to count, but is often difficult to obtain. In that sense, it is a perfect measure of success.
But, Eiichi Shibusawa thought a bit differently. “Because they do not realize the real substance of life, they focus on the financial treasure which, in fact, is just merely the wine sediment.” To Eiichi, money was not even the “fruits” of labor. Rather it was the “sediment” that was left behind the after the good taste of work.
Whether the Japanese bubble of the 1980s, the IT bubble of the 1990s, or the global leverage bubble of the 2000s, a “bubble” is often seen as a social phenomenon. However, all of these bubbles are collective bubbles of individuals. Bubbles are hard to resist, especially when it appears to us that so many people are looking successful by making money.
But, Eiichi believed that “in the scope of ones long life, being successful or not successful at one point in time is merely a bubble that hides the real value. Therefore, being attracted to such bubbles and focusing on immediate success or failure is a hindrance to the advancement of the nation.”
What is this real value. It seems that it cannot be measured in the near term. Perhaps it cannot be measured at all, but rather can only be felt. However, the fact that it cannot be measured and seen by our naked eye does not mean that it does not exist.