The Mishna in pirkei Avos asks, who is is wise? He who learns from everyone. Who is strong? He who conquers his temptations. Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot. Who is respected? He who respects everyone.
Why does the the Mishna teach us the secret to these four traits and not others? What is the common denominator? The Medrash Shmuel answers that in these four instances the key to true realization of these traits in their true form is exactly the opposite of what the world thinks.
In the eyes of the world someone who knows everything and need not ask anyone is a genius, while the one who asks is considered unlearned, as he needs to ask. The world thinks that someone who can pummel his enemy to the ground is a true strongman while the exact opposite is true. True strength is the ability to walk away from a fight. Society measures wealth in dollars and cents, while the reality is that the more you have the more you want and therefore the more you lack. Real wealth is the person who is satisfied with what he has for he has everything he desires. Honor is perceived as someone who respects no one while all eyes are turned to him. Chazal teach us that real honor, as opposed to outward honorable gestures out of intimidation, is attained by he who honors others.
The Mashgiach Rav Dov Yaffe has another explanation. Most people believe that these four traits are gifts that must be given to a person at birth or somewhere along the way. This is indeed the case according to the world's perception. Brains and strength are something we are born with. Wealth and honor comes as circumstances of life. The Mishna is teaching us that these four traits are indeed attainable and clearly within our reach. But first we must understand the true definition of these traits. Then we can set out to become wise, strong, wealthy, and respected in the truest sense of the word.