When many people discuss what they want to achieve, they talk about being “successful”. In their view of the world, success is the ultimate goal in life. But have you ever thought about taking it one step further and becoming significant? Just take a look around you, and you’ll see that most people use their knowledge, resources, and experience to acquire things and status in an attempt to satisfy their personal desires. This, in their minds, constitutes success. But becoming significant means using your knowledge, resources, and experience to serve and benefit others.
“Success is indeed a journey, but if you stop at [only] adding value to yourself, you miss the reward of significance.”
—John C. Maxwell
For those that truly understand life, success and significance are one and the same. However, for a significant portion of our society, success begins and ends with the achievement of a certain list of personal goals with little regard to the impact on others. These people confuse success with significance, and regardless of their wealth and professional accomplishments, they won’t acquire the true greatness that only comes through making significant contributions to something other than one’s self. Success is in the eye of the beholder, whereas significance is a view of you that is held by others.
Moving from success to significance relies completely on motivation. Are you solely seeking to have fun, fame, fortune, and recognition, or are you seeking to serve and benefit others with what you have? Having a genuine desire to help others comes from the heart, not just the head. Significant means something is weighty and highly meaningful, but if we ignore the simple things, we might risk being inauthentic. Everyday things are embedded in significance and making the simple a priority can make a big difference. Pursuing significance takes us out of our comfort zone, but once it’s sensed, nothing else will satisfy you.
More than anything, significance means instead of finding joy in your own success, your joy is the result of the success of others. Adding value to others will become most important to you, and you will be able to say that you love what you do and feel that it’s making a difference in the lives of others.
A great way to start is by being consistently present in others lives. Being the person who can be counted on to pick up the phone, be at your desk, answer the text, or simply listen, is invaluable and sets you apart from those who have agendas or are projecting care that isn’t genuine. Few successful people actually make the transition to significance, but every person of significance is successful.
The journey to significance takes time. Set the bar high for yourself by reevaluating your goals and objectives to ensure that you’re on a path towards significance. Don’t allow yourself to be blinded and halted by your own success. Rather leverage that success in an attempt to make a lasting and significant legacy for which you and your family can be proud. If you have the ability to live successfully, you have the ability to live significantly.