Success vs. Significance

8 Sep

Ask most people what they are striving for and you hear things that relate to having a successful life.  How people define success, though, may be colored by what I call, “celebrity success” or what people think success is, as it’s defined by material possessions, often associated with celebrities.

I just received my new issue of SUCCESS magazine and Darren Hardy, the editor, presented this topic.  He discusses the difference between success and significance.  He defines a successful person as someone who has achieved five pillars of excellence:

  1. Business
  2. Well-being
  3. Relationships
  4. Wealth
  5. Contribution  

He defines significance as the positive and lasting impact on people, be they friends, family, neighbors, countrymen or even humankind.  Interestingly, a person can be successful and not significant, but they cannot be significant without being successful.  I find this fascinating!

I’ve known quite a few people who have had success complete with great lifestyles: beautiful homes, fancy cars, incredible trips, the latest electronics, etc.  In some cases, the success the world sees doesn’t always reflect what’s happening behind the beautiful front doors.  The lasting contributions, the reaching out and helping others, the relationships with people versus business haven’t been a priority.  When there’s an emphasis on “getting” and less on “giving” the success isn’t sustainable.

The lesson I took from the article is one that has me asking, What am I doing that provides lasting impact on others?”  I choose my work on the value it adds for my clients, not allowing the potential fee be the driving factor.  I put energy into the relationships in my life (family, friends, colleagues, and clients) and that pillar contributes to my success in the other four pillars.  I work on answering that question every day.

What does success mean to you? How does significance play a role in your life?  Are you putting emphasis on “getting” or “giving”?  Success alone is hollow.  Now may be a time to re-evaluate your definitions and pursue significance.  See what happens!


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