Leading A Life Of Significance
Published on October 28, 2019
So, what are you living for? Are you living for the next promotion, the next title, the nicer car, the bigger home in the right neighborhood? Are living for success or for significance?
Throughout our careers we find our self completely focused on our success. Success isn’t bad, it what drives us to be better, to try hard and to be more. But too often that success is centered on “Me”, look what I have done, what I have achieved. I have found myself caught up in this success cycle, being proud of my accomplishments, the achievement in my career goals, my financial worth. Financial success is a powerful motivator. And it controls the lives of many. It chooses occupations. It dictates how time, energy, and resources are spent. It influences relationships, schedules, and families. To some, it even becomes an all-consuming passion that leaves broken people and morality in its wake.
But like many, that success doesn’t satisfy our longing in life. As I meet and coach people in their careers, and with the direction of their companies, many have achieved a level of success far beyond when they started their journey. And like me, they have discovered that they’re still not satisfied. In some cases, they are actually less fulfilled. “If I can just have that…… (You fill in the blank) I’d be happier.” Many thought whatever it is that they wanted more of would bring them satisfaction and fulfillment, yet their lives feel hollow. What I have learned is that self-centeredness and fulfillment cannot co-exist
When we look back on our life what do we want our story to be? “What’s your story? Is it a story centered around a life of success, or is it going to be a story centered around a life of significance? You have the opportunity to write your own story. I know that your story as much as mine, has great times, laughter, joy and love. But also, struggles, tragedy and times of loss. I truly believe no matter what storyline has played out in our life. We all want our lives to matter, we all want our stories to be a life that mattered a life of significance.
You can make your story great. Every one of us, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, capabilities, opportunity, capacity, or position. Each one of us can live a life of significance. A life of significance is moving from being me focused to being others focused. It’s changing our thinking from “What’s in it for me” to “What can I do for others.”
Don’t let the word “Significance” worry or terrify you. Don’t let it stop you from pursuing a life that truly matters. When I talk about significance, I’m not talking about being rich, or being famous, wining the accolades of others. There is nothing wrong with any of those things, but you don’t have to accomplish any of them to be significant. To be significant, it’s about making an impact, make a difference in the lives of others, wherever you are, with whatever you have each and every day.
My mentor once received a gift from his assistant. As he opened the package, he saw that it was a book, and he was intrigued by the title: “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. He couldn’t wait to read it. But when he opened the book, he was shocked, the pages were blank. Inside was a note that read, “Your life is before you. Fill these pages with kind acts, good thoughts, and matters of your heart. Write a great story with your life.”
Today, I have that same book, sign on the inside cover from my mentor. As I sat down for the first time with this book, my mentors’ words came to mind. “you now have a chance to be the author of your life, you can fill these pages or someone else will fill them with the expectation of what they think your life should be and it won’t be the life you wanted.” That statement was profound for me. Was I going to be intentional with my life or let other direct me and tell me what I should do and be?
You see, to live a life of significance you have to be intentional with each day. I found that when I was intentional, there was no limits on what I can do and the impact I can have on my family, those I work with and my community. When you intentionally use your everyday life to bring about positive change and impact the lives of others, you begin to live a life of significance. Significance will always outlast you. Even when you are no longer present. Significance keeps on giving. When you positively change the life of another human being… and that person changes the life of another… who impacts the life of another… who influences another… Significance satisfies our soul. While the thirst for success is never quenched, significance satisfies our deepest heart and soul.
So, what is your story going to be? How are you going to fill the page of your book, “The Greatest Story Ever Told” by ___________________.
Arthur M. May AIA Assoc. President