Success or significance. Which one are you after?
Most societies put a lot of peer pressure on people when it comes to careers, education, and personal / societal status. The pressure is on all of us to succeed. Succeed in what though? What does success look like? How does significance fit into this scenario? Feeling a little confused yourself?
The following 2 different mental approaches may help guide you towards more clarity where you want to draw the fine thin line.
Let’s take a quick look at 5 brief questions/ scenarios that will get us started pondering “success”:
- Who were the last 5 recipients of a Nobel prize (name any that come to mind)?
- Who were last year’s 5 top earners in the United States?
- Name 5 Emmy winners from last year?
- How about 5 Oscar winners for the same time period (your choice of any category)?
- Name the last 5 Heisman trophy winners?
These individuals truly embody success. How many did you remember? In pondering all 5 categories myself, I had some significant issues coming up with even a few names.
Now reflect upon the next list of scenarios and take some time to write the results down. By the end of the exercise you will know why.
- Name 5 people that you really enjoy spending time with.
- List 3 to 5 teachers that have impacted your life the most.
- Think of at least 3 friends who have helped you through tough times.
- How many people can you think of that changed your life forever?
- Name 3 folks for whom you would give your life, because they are so special to you.
Which list affected you the most? The former list certainly is in a league of its own and no one will argue that any of the people you came up with are extremely successful. One thing that probably struck you is how fast the world of the successful passes us right by: Isn’t it amazing how few of them we remember even though their achievements have been very recent.
Wouldn’t you agree that the second is the one that captures significance best? Take a good hard look at the people whose names you wrote on a piece of paper. Some of them will be in your thoughts (and prayers) for as long as you live.
There are two things I would like for you to do. How many of these folks are alive today? If they are alive, do they know how much they mean to you? Please go out of your way telling them this right away. Secondly, ponder what kind of a legacy you want to be known for. Here is an exercise you can use to get there.
How did this mental jogging work for you? Remember that you hold your own life’s snow globe in your hands. Give it a good shake.