The Race to Insignificance or Issues of Greatness
Life’s darkest frustrations hover over the gap between feeling unimportant and hoping to be significant.
Desires for greatness are holy.
No one wakes up in the morning with burning desires to be trivial. But, the pain of feeling insignificant drives some to quench or ignore holy passions to matter.
It feels safer to not reach for significance than to reach and fall short.
Pretending you don’t yearn to matter – to be great – sacrifices potential.
The race to insignificance:
- Allow others to define you.
- Serve yourself.
- Swim in shallow water.
- Don’t reflect on the journey.
- Pretend everything is just great.
- Wait for the “big” moment.
- Don’t try.
If, at the end of the day, you wonder what you did, change what you’re doing.
Issues of greatness:
The issues of greatness center on definition and method, not desire.
Greatness is serving. Greatness isn’t about others serving you. It’s about you serving others.
The more people you serve the greater you become.
- Fuel your desire for greatness by connecting with your authentic self. Authentic people aren’t ashamed of their desire to make a difference. Authenticity fuels passion and enables service.
- Forget balance. Balanced people are safe, dull, and marginally effective. Friends of ours retired and moved to China to work with orphans. Another couple spends most of their spare time working with college students. The truly great over-focus on serving.
- Face discontent with optimism. Millions of voices say you can’t. Find one reason you can and press forward.
- Surround yourself with success. I’ll never forget the day I asked a successful business man what he would do different. He said, “If I could go back, I’d take more risks.”
Embrace your holy desire for greatness one small act of service at a time.
What behaviors defeat the race toward insignificance?
What a great post. I 100% share the value that greatness has to be intertwined with services to others or there’s nothing all that great about it. I would only add that I try to give to those that I have a sense will also give of themselves to others. A sort of ‘pay it forward’ creed. At the very least, I avoid giving to takers unless they ask for help and are trying to turn over a new leaf.
Thanks James. Your added insights are so helpful for anyone serious about serving. It’s not so great to pour yourself into a black hole.
Your suggestion has the feel of exponential impact.
“Pretend everything is just great”. Ah, crap. Thought I was going to make it through that list with all gold stars!
Great advice, Dan.
Thanks Phil. That’s an interesting one. There is value to seeing the positive side. But, burying our head in the sand is another matter. Thanks for jumping in, Phil.
I love you…just sayin’. Every post is so relevant to my work as a literacy coach. you are my leadership spirit animal.
Thanks Cathy. It’s a pleasure to serve.
Leaders are different from boss because leaders serve their team while boss just tell them what to do. thanks
Thanks Naren. Nicely said. Now if we can just live it.
Oh man, you hit a nerve w/ this one, Dan. Great post, but hard because I see myself in so many of your statements. The struggle between longing to be great, being influential, having an impact and falling short of that is truly a gap of dark frustration.
What I find to be helpful for me is to daily focus on giving someone else worth and value. Pouring into, loving on, and trying to bless someone else helps re-orient my own frustration gap and keeps things in a more positive/optimistic perspective.
Thanks once again for churning out good stuff that challenges my thinking and encourages me to be the change.
Awesome Dan! It is one of the most important things we can do in our lives and that is to help people become the significance they aspire to be. We need to remember that everyone has different levels of aspiration and not all are grandeur in nature. Sometimes, a person’s significance is as simple as being heard or even having a voice. We all have the power to help others be significant and that is called leadership.
It is only when we choose to empower and develop others that we establish a culture of success that we succeed. Unfortunately, this is not the recognizable standard that we have grown accustomed to. People are taught that they must use other people as stepping stones or as rungs on the ladder to their success. To conquer this mindset, I would contend that we all take pause and think of ways in our daily routines that we can help others achieve their significance.
Sometimes we just have to remove our clothes, stare into the mirror and proclaim–this is who I am–no more, no less. The key is to reflect on what a total waste it is to seek after the approval of others The next reflection must be:: Now, why am I here? Eventually, we will conclude that part of the reason each of us is here must be to provide some form of service to others. That is enough for starters. Where ever our destinies will lead us from that point forward, they will stop and wait for us to catch up..
Rob’s Tips for Greater Teamwork
In a video I just watched by Rob Brown, he spoke to how to effectively work together as a team by ensuring that all members of the team utilize their individual strengths to save time, and provide the most effective solutions to a client. You have to take into consideration what strengths each member of your team possess and match them up to the activities you are trying to complete. This particular video was created by a financial advisor, so he did use specific roles that he plays during the video. He also reminds you that you have hired specific members of your team for specific duties such as administrative duties and marketing duties, and to make sure that you are utilizing them for those roles. The strengths of your teammates create the ultimate client experience, and making sure that you leverage that and put that to work to the best of your ability will help you succeed.
Hidden talent is missed opportunity for organizations. More times than not, there is an abundance of versatile people right in your organization. If companies would just apply the elements of leadership and get to know your people, they would find these prospects of opportunity. It is all part of developing your people and making the most of what you have.
#2 – Forget Balance hit a nerve with me. I feel like I’ve heard too many stories of great men make an impact on the world, but have very little left for their family. Seems to be a method for a quick burnout if there’s no balance. Did I read too much into it? Would love to hear you expound on that one. Thanks Dan.
We all want to feel special, to feel great. The secret: in making others feel special, in making others great, we become special and great. “It is in giving that we receive …” St Francis