I wasn't entirely sure where to put this thread, so I'll just put it here because it ties into the general social atmosphere.
So which do you value more, improvement or success?
Both of these concepts are intertwined, and do have a bearing on each other in real life, but which one do you value more and why?
Let's give a visual of each and how they manifest themselves...
A smith who focuses on improvement works, studies, and gets as much experience as possible to hone his craft. The act of smithing itself is a personal quest for perfection that is never satiated. He may be in competition with himself or with other smiths, but he competes to set the bar one notch higher. If this smith was a football coach, he would chant, "You play to perfect your game".
A smith who focuses on success does what ever he can to make a profit. He may employ new marketing strategies like altering prices or pander to the customer with advertisements. This smith doesn't really equate the quality of his craft with success because his first priority is to win by whatever means possible. If this smith was a football coach, he would chant, "You play to win the game".
While you can be more successful in improvement, what I'm talking about is achievement for ideological, social or monetary triumph. Defeating the competition is virtuous in and of itself to someone who values this kind of success. Winning an argument is valued over finding the truth to the "successful" debater. Accumulating as much wealth as possible... of course, this could be thought of as a kind of art, and it's something that all people compete for...
I see that the most successful U.S. politicians have the latter mindset. They may convolute the meanings of their words so they can mimic the voters' priorities. They may try to besmirch each other, entertain, or say whatever the crowd wants to hear instead of perfecting their politics. If a politician is adamant about his/her own politics, then they are generally cast out. Why? Is that really what appeals to us?
This same mentality skips into other topics like religion, business, finance, etc.