Success and Significance

What is success?  Today’s Western culture prefers to define success in terms of fame and fortune.  People are considered successful when they earn lots of money and reach the highest levels of their chosen endeavors.  Awards, bonuses, job titles, certificates, prizes and the corner office are treasured symbols reflecting success.  Likewise, houses, cars, boats, and club memberships are the trophies of financial success.  You might recall a once-popular bumper sticker that read, “The one with the most toys wins!”

I believe success in these terms falls short of something much better.  Since it is difficult to change the current vernacular, let’s use a different word.  How about significant, which to me is the result of living an unselfish life, putting others ahead of our quest for toys and accolades.

“You can have everything in life that you want,
if you just help enough other people get what they want.”
– Zig Ziglar

Zig spent decades teaching us that there are benefits from dedicating our lives to serving others.  At the same time, fame and fortune make lousy goals.  A better target is significance.  I suggest that a better name for it is Zignificance.  I wonder how much better the world would be if more people shifted their focus away from success and toward Zignificance.

“The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance –
and then even the small steps and little victories along your path
will take on greater meaning.”
Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine, September 2002

What Will It Take?

by David Wright

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible,
then they seem improbable,
and then
when we Summon the Will,
they soon become inevitable.”

– Christopher Reeve

For any endeavor we launch, or goal we wish to accomplish, the quest begins with the question, “What will it take?”  If you Google the phrase “what will it take” you will find thousands of documents projecting what must take place to make things happen.

I have spent a lot of time throughout my life answering that question personally and professionally.  When working with clients there are six questions we normally ask to answer that one question.  Those questions are: Why?, Who?, What?, Where?, When? and How?  Yet, there is only one key element that really matters.  It is the foundation stone that makes the seemingly impossible become inevitable.  And that is where our journey to an exceptional life begins.

As a young boy one of my interests was space travel.  Technology was giving us the ability to actually do the things I read about in science fiction novels. Living in Florida at the time I heard about the space race repeatedly.  When there was a launch from Cape Canaveral, later named Cape Kennedy, class was dismissed so we could go onto the playground and watch the rocket climb into the heavens.  Watching those launches always inspired me to believe that anything was possible.

Space age technology brought about innovation that impacted, and continues to impact, every area of life.  So how did we get there?  What were the events that came together to inspire us to achieve these lofty goals?  The following story gives us some insight.

President John Kennedy had challenged our scientific community to put a man on the moon within ten years.  While talking with Werner Von Braun, one of the lead scientists on the project, President Kennedy asked him what he thought it would take to accomplish this goal.  Dr. Von Braun could have discussed all the scientific discoveries that would need to take place.  He could have detailed for the President the enormous amount of money that would have to be invested.  Instead this brilliant man’s answer to President Kennedy was simple – and true.  All it would take, he said, was “the will to do it.”  How right he was.

The will to do it – the one key element that really matters.  For all of our ideas and plans it is the determination to see it through that makes the difference.  What are you “willing to do?”