Everyone wants to feel significant. To know their life has meaning and purpose.
Author, Dan Clark, best known for his contributions to the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, has a strategy to help you go beyond success and live a life of significance.
We achieve success by doing what is necessary to get what we want, but often end up in a completely different physical and emotional place than we thought we would be. It’s like the pilot who took off at the equator to circumnavigate the globe. Because his course was off by just one degree, by the time he returned to the same longitude, he was lost. An error of only one degree had taken him 500 miles off course, where he ran out of gas and crashed.
No one wants his life to end in a place he didn’t intend – a destination of meaningless selfishness, or in a crash caused by regrets. But all too often we don’t realize that an error of a few degrees has set us on a course for disaster, and as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “We die with our music still in us.”
As I’ve traveled the world and interviewed the most famous and influential people on the planet, I’ve discovered that many of their lives have not been as wonderful as perceived. While giving themselves over to fortune and fame, they surrendered their capacity to live as well-adjusted, fulfilled human beings. Yes, I admire the way these individuals have excelled, but I’ve also seen the costs up close of a single-minded focus on success.
I first realized this when a teammate of mine was drafted in the second round into the National Football League. He was a legitimate superstar, but after only four years in the league, and at the top of his game, he walked out of practice, and quit, never to play again. Why? He loved being a football player, but he hated playing football. He got what he wanted but didn’t want what he got! He loved the money, fame and celebrity perks, but he hated the brutal practices, nomadic lifestyle, and obligation to play hurt. He was living a successful existence, but since he was misaligned with his inner purpose, not a significant life. Sadly, too many of us give up what we want most in order to obtain the empty success we think we want at the moment.
Can You Relate?
I played football for thirteen years, relentlessly pursuing success, until a paralyzing injury cut short my career. I was paralyzed for fourteen months and sixteen doctors told me I would not recover. Now that I have, the question I am most frequently asked is: What took so long? My answer: I was asking the wrong questions. I was asking the doctors how to get better, when I should have been asking myself why I should get better.
Focusing on how had been setting me up for failure because each doctor had a different theory, and the pain felt so excruciating that quitting before fully recovering seemed easy and reasonable. Without sounding too dramatic, when I was injured, confused, and feeling alone in the dark, I discovered that it takes courage to leap into an abyss, whether for the thrill of adventure or to dispense with a situation that no longer works. It’s easier to hesitate, holding on to the familiar, clinging to people, positions, and possessions that are no longer sustaining, because we fear the unknown. We seek a renaissance of spirit, a return to understanding that being is more important than having, and yet we lose our vitality by resisting the very steps that could help us create a dynamic and fulfilling life.
Way too many people are spending their entire lives wishing for amazing things they will never get – when they should be focused on doing amazing things with whatever they have.
For this reason, I regard my football injury as one of the best things that ever happened to me. No, the best thing was not the accident, but what I learned about myself and who I became while working through the setback. My recovery began only when I started focusing on purposes instead of shallow goals, on being whole rather than having fame, and on the reality that there is nothing noble about being superior to some other person. True nobility only comes in being superior to your previous self. Once I answered why I should do whatever was necessary to recover, figuring out the how-to was simple. To become significant beings, we must do the harder, steady, inner work of learning from the past, letting it go, and becoming everything we were born to be!”
In my new book: The Art of Significance – Achieving The Level Beyond Success, I challenge the twelve principles that make anyone successful, and replace them with the Twelve Highest Universal Laws of Life Changing Leadership that make our lives significant.
Success Vs Significance
For instance, successful people think wealth flows to them. Significant individuals know wealth flows through them. We can get anything in this life that we want if we are willing to help enough other people get what they want.
Significant individuals know we become the average of the five people we associate with the most, and therefore willingly pay any price and travel any distance to associate with extraordinary human beings.
The successful say, “My free will agency allows me to do whatever I want.” The significant realize that misusing our agency can take it away. Significance comes when we realize that obedience to a specific law reaps a specific reward, and disobedience brings a specific consequence. Free will is not free, and agency is non-existent if desired results are what we seek.
The successful say, “Patience is a virtue.” No it’s not! The significant realize any virtue taken to the extreme can become a vice – patience allows us to never begin. Perseverance with a purpose is the highest law of endurance.
The successful have faith and hope in the future. The significant realize that too many live their lives hoping to be happy, but because they only hope, they never really are. Trust through predictability is the higher law.
The successful believe it’s all about team. The significant realize teams lose – it’s about winning.
Successful parents, coaches and leaders tell their subordinates, “Be good, win, sell, and do more with less.” The significant know you can’t coach results – you can only coach behavior.
Clearly, too many leaders believe they are thinking and changing, when in reality they are merely rearranging their opinions and prejudices, which only perpetuate their current faddish systems of success.
Because the purpose of a leader is to grow more leaders, which requires analog action in a digital world, we have also created The Art of Significance Leadership Education Course. The short and long-term benefit to an organization is the continuous development and maintenance of a capable, loyal workforce, which translates into a positive, energetic culture based on promotion from within.
When a leader focuses on providing an opportunity for their employees to grow and become significant, it builds trust in management, fosters mutual respect, support and unity in team members, and stirs companywide pride of ownership that directly translates into unparalleled customer service.
Devoting resources to leadership education has a domino effect throughout the organization as responsible, informed employees make proactive decisions that have recurring, positive results. This is what makes us significant leaders who are committed to creating significant organizations.
The Art of Significance is Achieved by Subscribing to
The Twelve Highest Laws of Life Changing Leadership:
1. Practice Obedience Instead of Free Will Agency
2. Exercise Perseverance Instead of Patience
3. Proactively Stretch Instead of Change
4. Trust Predictability Instead of Hope and Faith
5. Know the Whole Truth Instead of Believing What You Think
6. Focus on Winning Instead of Team
7. Do Right Instead of Seeking to Be Best
8. Experience Harmony Instead of Balance
9. Accept Others Instead of Judging Them
10. Strive to Be Needed and Loved Instead of Romanced and Used
11. Establish Covenants Instead of Making Commitments
12. Forgive Instead of Apologize
Dan Clark is CEO of Dan Clark and Associates; university professor; an award winning athlete who fought his way back from a paralyzing injury that cut short his football career; a New York Times best-selling author; adventurer; philanthropist; and one of the most sought after speakers on the platform today. danclarkspeak.com contact: 800-676-1121