Success vs Significance

Sep 9, 2013 by



One of our family values is raising children of Significance. We want our kids to live a life of significance, which means living beyond themselves. It is about relationships and investing the time and effort into others. We often say, “It’s all about relationships,” and it is so true. I would often say to our kids when dropping them off for school, “Give someone a smile, they might just need it today.” Mother Teresa says, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” The significance of an act of kindness can go a long way.

There is a major difference between success and significance. Dan Clark says, “Successful people may strive to be ‘great’ or ‘best,’ but significant people-those who can lead and inspire others-go further and aim to do right, even when it is the harder path.” We don’t want to just be great, we want to be significant and sacrifice to do the right thing, live out and instill life values into others.

We are convinced that in the terms most commonly used and understood today, success is about us, and significance is going beyond us to help, influence, inspire, and impact others. Significance is what lives beyond us…a legacy. The great coach, John Wooden didn’t just recruit and use players to build championships, but he developed men who made a difference in life, not just on the basketball court. He raised up people, not just athletes. He is known for instilling values not just teaching the x’s and o’s of basketball. His legacy is well beyond that of a great basketball coach; he is known as a great coach in life.success and signifi arrows

Significance is distinguished by helping others achieve and succeed, rather than only seeing what is in it for us. Gaining success but losing significance and relationships is not worth the cost. How is it success when we lose everything else?

Dan Clark is right when he says we must be right not just best or great. He is not saying that you have to be “right” all the time, rather choosing to do the right thing. It is about an uncompromising commitment to live out your values and invest them into the lives of others. We have had others invest in us to help us achieve. We should do the same to leave a legacy of significance that will go well beyond us and outlive us.

Maybe this story will give some perspective. It helped me. I was recently talking to a dad who was out playing golf with his teenage son. I had never met him before, but we begin to talk about he and his son playing golf. When asked about competing against his son, the dad said, “I stopped beating him at golf about three years ago. I can’t even get into his head to mess him up and try to sneak a win by playing those mind games.” The conversation continued, and we both agreed, “That is exactly what is suppose to happen.” Not only in golf but also in life. We want our children and others — those whose lives we have opportunity to speak into — to soar so much higher than us. We want them to succeed and that gives us so much more than success. What a life we will live if we can send many others to soar ahead of us and farther than we could ever go ourselves. Significant people do what is right even when it is toughest — to help others become not simply successful but significant in their own lives.

  • Who do you need to invest in to leave a legacy of significance?
  • How can you strategize to send people (children, employees, friends, spouse) farther than you have ever gone?
  • What can you do to live a life of more than simply success and making it about you?



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