Mental Ramblings on Success and Significance
Recently I entered a new store I had never visited to pick up a special order, and when I began talking to a sales associate Siri proclaimed, “You have arrived.”
In a moment of existential enlightenment, I looked at the associate and confidently said, “I hope you are achieving your life purpose, because as you just heard, I have arrived!”
Much has been written and spewed forth on the what it means to succeed in life. Steve Mueller, founder of Planet of Success states, “Success is the status of having achieved and accomplished an aim or objective.” He goes on to say that success is different for every individual, so it’s impossible to create a definition that applies to everyone.
In my moment of enlightenment, I found myself driving away from the store with my mind ruminating on the simple proclamation, “You have arrived.” It begged the question, “Where do I feel that I have arrived at this stage in my life?” And, on a deeper level, “What if arrival has nothing to do with success and everything to do with significance?”
There is a fable from the far East called “The Princes of Serendib,” for which is derived the word serendipity. In this fable, three princes sent out by their father, the king, embark on a journey. Along the way they were always making discov¬eries, by accident or sagacity, of things they were not in quest of. As it turned out, they were successful on their journey, not because they arrived at their final destination, but because they paid attention, embraced each moment along, and learned how to respond virtuously.
What if, in our constant striving to achieve our “destinations” in life, we have missed much of the goodness, meaning, and opportunity concealed in daily struggles, encounters, and relationships? What if we allow ourselves to become more curious about what it means to arrive in life?
The thought of “arrival” transforms the narrow understanding of success to broader scope of meaning that can only be found in the pursuit and embrace of significance. Significance calls us to fix our attention, moment by moment, on where we find meaning. A new thought, a new understanding, a new acceptance, a new sense of hope, a new dream, a new act of service, all are filled with opportunities for meaning.
With a transformed mindset from success to significance, the focus of our lives shifts from a narcissistic strive for personal achievement to a daily exploration of our unique calling to be meaning-makers in this world. As we engage this call with courage, there will be failure and success on the journey, but life will be filled with a sense of joy and peace that can only be found in the pursuit of meaning and significance.
Ritch Hochstetler, President and CEO at ULEAD