Have you ever received advice on how to be successful? Probably, especially if you grew up in the good ole USA. It could have been advice from a relative or the keynote speaker at your graduation — whether college or kindergarten. “What you need to succeed” is always a hot topic for commencement addresses.
Perhaps you went searching for advice on “how to be successful”. If so, I hope you had a source other than Google to consult. Or at least, I hope you had a more specific query for your search. Otherwise you’ve got a lot of reading to do.
According to the query I just ran on Google, I found 703,000,000 — thats 703 MILLION sources of advice on how to be successful. That’s a lot of advice! Much of it is questionable. And a whole bunch (technical scientific term) of it is outright bad.
The Quest for Success
How do I know? I’ve heard it, read it, and even practiced it. In case you’re skeptical, let me share this small sampling:
30 Habits You Should Adopt — Seriously, 30. Why not 100? Habits are so easy to adopt. If you accept the data that it takes 21 days to adopt a habit and there are 30 to adopt, that’s only 630 days to secure those habits. Now some “experts” say it takes 66 days for that habit to stick — ugh, that two years extends to 5.5 years. Good luck with that.
11 Books That Will Teach You to Be Successful — Really? Just 11 books to read. Wonder if there is any conflicting or confusing advice in those 11 books? If so, how do you know who’s right? Just thinking out loud here.
How I Became Rich Before 30 and How You Can Too — Oops, should have found that one a few years ago. If, like me, and already past 30, just skip that one.
21 Ways to Achieve Wealth and Success — Once again, I appreciate the simplicity of having only 21 more things to master.
6 Things You Should Quit Doing…hope none of those were one of the 30 habits you spent 630 days adopting. And the list goes on.
Trust me, after spending 15 years in corporate sales in a Fortune 50 company, I sat through my fair share of success seminars. I can’t say I’ve heard it all, but I’ve heard most of it. Some of what I heard was nonsense and I immediately dismissed it. Much of it was commonsense that affirmed what I had learned from my parents and teachers.
There’s one thing I wish I had heard earlier in life.
Success may get you to the door of significance, but success alone, won’t get you through the door. What do you mean, Kevin?
Well, success may bring you to the place in life where you realize there is more to life than winning the next championship, closing the big deal, acquiring another company, or summiting a higher mountain. Your success in life, in all of the various domains of life, may bring you to the threshold of significance, but success does not guarantee significance.
Four ways significance differs from success
Success is short-lived, significance endures. Records will be broken. Your best performance will, sooner or later, be bested by others. Success always demands more. It’s amazing to hear of Olympic athletes who just won a Gold medal and set a world record wondering what’s next and if their best day in life is now history. Acts of significance, even if done in obscurity will endure.
Success can be a solo quest, significance always involves others. While none of us truly succeeds alone, we need the support and encouragement of others. However, in many arenas, success recognizes the one in the winner circle or the spotlight. And, granted, there are times, winners forget about the others who contributed to their success.
Baseball legend, Jackie Robinson offered a keen insight. “A life isn’t significant except for its impact on other lives.” You can’t be significant in isolation. In some way, directly or indirectly, you must make an impact on others to truly be significant.
Success results from striving, significance results from serving. No doubt that long hours, consistent effort, and hard work are necessary for success. Success is often focused on self — honing your skills, developing your talents, sharpening your abilities. The path to significance is found through serving. Serving is the giving of your time, resources, and self on behalf of others.
Success is achieved, significance is bestowed. You earn success by accomplishing goals, shattering records, or besting the competition (with yourself or others). And you can demonstrate your success by your achievements. However, you can’t climb or earn your way to significance. It’s bestowed on you by others for the benefit they have received from your contribution to their life, organization, or community. I applaud your drive and desire to succeed. At the same time, I encourage you to consider the higher purpose your success makes possible — for you and others.
If you’re destined for significance, why settle for success?
If you’re looking for help identifying your higher purpose, I’ve got five questions for you to ask and answer to get you started and you can access them below.
Want more help? Let’s connect on a call and get you plugged into our next group event or even a one-on-one if you can’t wait.