The concept of success is woven into our culture at various levels. Parents want success for their children. Fans want success for their athletic teams. Business owners want success for their companies. Individuals want success for their personal lives. All of those are understandable. Who wouldn’t want to achieve their goals, win championships, exceed financial projections, and experience prosperity, advancement, and accomplishment? Our culture has generally accepted that success is woven into achieving, winning, advancing, and experiencing prosperity.
There is nothing wrong with seeking success in various areas of our lives. We should strive to be the best at whatever we embark on in life. The danger with a success only focus is that life also includes periods of tough challenges, struggles, and failures. How do we respond in those periods? If we aren’t careful, success can also be a totally inward focused approach and can be very short-term in nature. The temporal nature of success is evidenced by the requirement to continue to strive to maintain or advance further.
As we approach Christmas Day and a new year, there is another concept that is worth all of us considering. Significance focuses on the impact we have on others as opposed to the results focus of success. While success and significance can complement one another, the two are viewed differently in our culture:
Success will look at the bank account while significance will look at the calendar.
Success will focus on the scoreboard while significance will focus on the players.
Success will focus on the job title while significance will focus on the impact on others.
Success will focus on the report card while significance will focus on the learning influence.
Success will focus on financial projections being met while significance will focus on the lives improved.
Success will focus on the won/loss record while significance will focus on the young people developed.
Success will often follow the size of the organization while significance will follow the culture created.
There is nothing wrong with pursuing success, but I encourage all of us to seek significance beyond success. Significance can be present in good and bad times. Significance weathers economic downturns, tough seasons, disappointing circumstances, and unforeseen challenges. Significance will be the legacy you leave. People may forget results, but they won’t forget impact!
Going back to that first Christmas, no one would consider it a success by the world’s standards. A baby born in a stable, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and sleeping in a manger is not a picture of success. However, we are still celebrating that day some 2000+ years later. I would call that significant! Success can be fleeting, but significance can outlast a lifetime! You don’t have to choose, but I encourage you to seek significance beyond success.