Beware of the False Signs of Success

Jan 31, 2012, Written by Sue Miley

Everyone on Facebook is having their “best life yet”.  Why aren’t I?

There are no messed up people in church.  I don’t belong here.

That new business has the best sign, the perfect staff, a better location.  I might as well close down now.

It always looks shinier, newer, and better from the vantage point of our reality.

But is it real.

Long before I ever became a counselor I learned this lesson.

Looks are deceiving.

The reality of the world is temporary at best.

My First Encounter

The company I worked for tended to hire senior managers from outside of our organization.  My company was cool, but these guys coming from Procter and Gamble, Coca Cola, and Starbucks, were more cool.  They were once hired by big national companies.  I was still in the regional world.  They worked on amazing product campaigns, had budget’s with an additional 3 to 6 figures, and just walked differently.

A few months into their new role, they were coming to me for help.

Magnified by the Viral World

Fast forward to about 5 years ago.  I wanted to really jump into the world of coaching.  I studied and searched online.  I found my own coach.  I quickly realized their was this inside group of coaches.  You know the one’s that have each other at all of their virtual events, tweet back and forth, and basically make the rest of the coaching world believe they are making a killing with multiple streams of income, working two hours a day, and have client’s on waiting lists.

Until you go to one of their events and realize their virtual assistant isn’t reliable either.  They get nervous speaking to groups too.  You start to add it all up.  Is this event really profitable?

Just Like You and I

I am not knocking them.  Some try to sell their success as a sign of why we should use them.  But, many are just like you and I.  They are launching their business, starting their new job, and just trying to make things work.

Regardless, we still get psyched out.  We wonder if we spent enough on our business cards.

We think, “What if I take out a loan and spruced up my website?”

Maybe it’s our business model.

And many times we actually make a change.  Not because of someone else’s proven track record of success.

Beware Things Look Shinier in the Distance

No, many times it is just the false appearance of success.

The shiny new image.  The plastered on smile.  The copywriter’s spin.

The Eternal Business Plan

Remember your business started because of your vision.  You are doing this to follow God’s plan for your life.

The best marketing plan is serving the people God sends you.

The best operating plan is to do everything to your best ability in a way that glorifies God.

The best financial plan is to follow biblical principles of stewardship.

In the long-run, that new store front you coveted….  That star sales person the other guy had….  That slick website……

….all fade.

While a few,

….the few who stay focused on Him


like a city on a hill that others want to follow.

Because a God vision is eternal.  It doesn’t fade over time.  It isn’t an outward appearance of success with an inner emptiness.

Not because of false appearances.

Not because of the world’s view of success

The city on a hill shines as a beacon.  A light to other small business that you can build your business on your faith and fulfill a vision that others don’t have to covet, don’t have to compete against, don’t have to fear.

On the contrary, they are drawn to it.

Not external success.

Or even internal….

…..but eternal.

Reader Interactions


    • S_Miley says

      @lamikayty I am so glad. I am praying many will stay focused on God’s plans and not let the world divert them!

  1. David Rupert says

    Your best line, “Beware Things Look Shinier in the Distance”.
    I rode in an elevator about 10 years ago with Shaka Kahn (the disco queen). I saw her up close and it was — scary!

    Same thing for me. From a distance, I’m smooth with words and expressions. But if you look close, you’ll see some big chunks out of my life.

    The way you draw this timeless principle of being real to business is spectacular!

    • S_Miley says

      David, I love the Shaka Kahn example!! I know a realtor who has a life size poster of herself out all over town. When I met her I realized the poster must be from a picture a decade or so ago….your example made me think of that!! Thanks for sharing.

    • S_Miley says

      Doug, That is one of the things I love about your business. It is a true God vision and will make a timeless impact on people!

  2. Mark A. Griffin says

    Great read Sue! I have met many people I was eager to know only to find out there was nothing behind their facade. I appreciate the way you always get us back to God’s plan for us, you are a difference maker, and I am honored to read your words of encouragement.

    • S_Miley says

      Thanks Mark. One of the recent inspiration was talking to a young person starting on their career and feeling like they must not be meant for it because others seem to do it so much easier and better. And, in this as in most case, it isn’t really true.

  3. Bryan Tackett says

    I was setting in my chair needing some inspiration and I thought I need to go to Sue. Thanks. I have lost a little if my eternal reason for my agency. I used to think of ideas to bring the my spiritual life into my business. I read a story of a pie maker that would put scriptures in the inside bottom of the pie pan. You got me thinking again Sue. Thanks.

    • S_Miley says

      Hey Bryan, I do hope it inspired you. I admit I am sort of on a rampage because I hear so many wonderful business owners being deceived! Satan wants us to think the eternal way won’t work in business. I disagree! Blessings Bryan!

  4. Loren Pinilis says

    I’ve found this to be so true about so many things. We see so many people around us that we think have it all together, and we feel so inferior in comparison. It’s comforting to realize that maybe our perceptions aren’t 100% accurate. But ultimately, you’re right, we need to be focusing on ourselves and being the best that we can be anyway.

    • S_Miley says

      Hey Loren, We do need to focus on ourselves. and your comment also made me think, also remember there is always room for more than one with a heart for God doing great work! Thanks for commenting.

  5. Laurie@Christian Home Business Owners says


    I absolutely LOVED this post! It is encouraging to those of us who think that there are stars in our niche who are making all the money.

    My husband and I have had conversations. I’ll tell him about someone and he’ll ask, “are they really earning good money?” “Well, of course” I tell him. “How do you know?” “Well, I assume…”

    I think I”ll bookmark this post so I can read it when I need it:-)

    • S_Miley says

      Hi Laurie, My husband always asks me (jokingly) “Are we making any money yet?” It’s fun the times I get to say yes! I’ll pray for many of those times for both of us! Sue

  6. Jerry says

    Great thoughts and truths. I am at a crossroad and was wondering about my past and desire for success in the future. This has put me in the right frame of thoughts and plans. Thank you very much.

    • S_Miley says

      Jerry, I’ve been at theses places many times. Leaning in to God has always helped me through these crossroads. You are in my prayers.

  7. Chris Patton says

    Excellent post! I can absolutely relate.

    An example from our business is what we call a 50-yard car. From 50 yards, it really looks good. It is the right model and the right color. The paint shines from there and nothing looks out of place. You cannot wait to drive it!

    When you get up to the car, you realize the tires are bald. The paint shines, but it is covering more body work than Shaka Kahn’s makeup. The interior is horrendous and there are fluids leaking onto the pavement. Oh yeah, the doors on the other side of the car are crushed in as well.

    If we continue to make decisions and wallow in feelings that are based on the 50 yard view, then we will drive ourselves crazy! The problem is that with our business competitors or peers, we often do not get the opportunity to get an up-close view of the true condition. In these cases, we are left wondering whether they really are that good or not!

    You are right in pointing out that this is when we should be going back to the one Truth we can count on…the Bible. It does not leave us wondering. This God vision you mention is the only one we need to work toward.

    Thanks, Sue, for the reminder!

    • S_Miley says

      Chris, What a great analogy. Will have to share that with some clients! I always fall back to leaning on God when I don’t really know what to do, which I know he would prefer I do from the start! Thanks for sharing! Sue

  8. Miranda Ochocki says

    Wonderful post! I have found your information to be very true!
    It is amazing how people “beef” themselves up to be better than they are. What happened to being real? In the end, the posers are found out. But it stinks for the rest of us in the mean time. All we can do is pray for them!
    Thanks for the great post.

    • S_Miley says

      Miranda, Yes it particularly stinks when things aren’t going great for us at the time. It gives Satan the opportunity to pour on the doubt! But, prayer is still the best answer! Thanks for sharing back!

  9. Amy says

    I’ve just come from a conference where every time I stepped in the elevator … there I was surrounded by me in mirrors. One was was particularly distorting, at least that’s what we all said. Ha! But that’s probably a good metaphor for when you get too close to me — sadly, parts of me (my personality and character) are distorted and I’m not quite the reflection of God I’d like to be!

  10. Marcy says

    I’ve been faced with a situation where my Business seem to be falling apart. I re-considered closing because it seems like the best thing to do right now. In desperation for help and guidance (apart from prayers of course) I started an online search for Christian Business advice and I came upon S Miley…I must let you know that my faith has been renewed. I feel that I can continue even though the current situation looks hopeless.

    I’m encouraged to have Faith in God and His Vision for my life and to REALLY STOP feeling any sense of envy towards those who are ‘ apparently ‘ successful.

    Thank you so much for inspiring me! God Bless.

    • S_Miley says

      Hi Marcy, I am so glad this was an encouragement to you. I wrote it because I have been there before and also talked to many others in this spot. It is hard to put the blinders on and remember that we really only have an audience of One. I will be praying for you and your business! Blessings to you. Sue

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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