In an Instagram age, we’re more intent on achieving significance than ever. We’re addicted to the validation that only likes and retweets can offer, but we’ll happily bask in other forms of praise as well. As we determine what will provide that next burst of validation, we rarely bother to ask ourselves: Is significance actually a goal worth pursuing?
Recently, I’ve discovered that the traditional hallmarks of significance leave me feeling empty — and my quest for personal glory does absolutely nothing to help those around me.
The search for significance is ultimately about feeding the ego. If that effort benefits others, great — but the real focus is me, me, me. This reality is exemplified by significance’s definition: “The quality of being worthy of attention.”
Perhaps it’s time to adjust our language and expectations. Instead of striving for significance, we should aim to create a significant impact. Personal glory may follow suit, but it’s not the primary goal.
I’m far from perfect in this regard. My life used to be a never-ending search for significance. Sure, I wanted to help others. Deep down, however, I was mostly interested in how others perceived my efforts.
Everything changed when I attended a Tony Robbins event in July 2017. Tony re-framed significance as a negative quality. I was shocked — Tony is one of the world’s most significant people! How could he not be addicted to validation?
It turns out, Tony’s dedication to other peoples’ best interests is what sets him apart –and that’s why he’s so beloved.
Tony Robbins is just one example. The world is full of amazing, impactful people who don’t particularly care about personal significance. Some of them are famous and some of them aren’t, but all enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that they’re making a difference. From Brené Brown to Marie Forleo, role models abound. My husband and I am determined to emulate their best qualities.
Mark Twain puts it best: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
Have you discovered your passion? Do you know how you can harness your skills and interests to make the world a better place? If your quest for significance feels hollow, it’s time to change up your approach. You’ll thank yourself later — I promise!