Success is not significance. When we are successful, the benchmark is usually an external one. When we become significant, the benchmark is an internal one. We live according to our inner scorecard. The following are twelve principles that will guide you to become more significant in your life.
1. Choose obedience: At each moment we are free to choose any course of action. But we are not free to choose the consequence of our actions. We are free to choose whether we smoke or not, but we are not free to choose whether we get lung cancer or not. When we make a choice, we receive the specific consequence of that choice. This means we must make right choices and obey those choices no matter what happens. Some right choices we can make in our lives are:
- Be humble: This means being submissive and teachable to a higher power or authority that can teach us more and these are all around us all the time. Recognise that.
- Have integrity: Do the right thing when people are watching, but more importantly, doing the right thing when they aren’t.
- Be self-disciplined: This means to obey your commitments once you have made them
- Sacrifice: To achieve worthwhile things, we often need to give up things which may seem important for a greater purpose.
- Have order in your life: This means to have right habits that embody our values.
When we can constantly adopt these attitudes, our lives change for the better.
2. Patiently persevere: We can only live in the now. The future is a future now and the past is a now that has gone. If we can live the ‘now’ in a way that is congruent with the purpose of why we live, irrespective of the setbacks we face, we shall continue to get better. To do that we need to not just keep working, but also remain aware of why you are doing it and what higher purpose you are trying to serve. Things that can help us in this process are to be thankful of what we have, believe and affirm that you can succeed, break tasks into small manageable goals and model people who have succeeded before.
3. Meaningful stretch: Many times we change because we are forced to change by outside pressures. Such change is not joyous and is stressful. We need to change meaningfully. This means that we change towards what we really want rather than what others want: towards our own purpose, values and goals. We also need to remember that we can climb a flight of stairs one step at a time only…if we try to do more, we often will injure ourselves. So take things slowly, one step at a time. Change has to be balanced in many areas- physical fitness, continuous education, deeper spirituality, emotional stability, socializing, financial responsibility, family togetherness, leisure fun and charitable giving. When we change in this way, often, we find better goals and aspirations along the way and are happy to let go of things to become the best that we can.
4. Hopefully and faithfully trust: Trust is more than just hope and faith. Trust means that you believe that the person will do as promised because they have behaved in that way previously. The promise is not false or made up, it is true and honest and grounded in past experience. Hope and faith are initially necessary of course, but trust takes things to a greater level. Trust is what makes all relationships with everything meaningful and alive.
5. Know the whole truth: Truth is like a chandelier. The way we look influences what we see. We have to remember that the truth is not what we believe. That is the map, not the territory. We have to deal with maps, but if we constantly test and broaden our beliefs every day, then our maps become more closer to the territory. That should be our goal always.
6. Truly win: Winning does not mean to defeat others, it is to become the best that you can be in all aspects of your life. This often means we have to work with others in teams, but teams for the sake of teams does not make sense. We have to form teams that aim to develop each person in the team to the best of its capability. That is real winning.
7. Do the right thing: What is right, one may ask? Is it not subjective? It may seem to be, but in reality it is not. If we look inside ourselves and ask what is right, it is usually easy to know. It is usually simple but may not be easy. The right thing to do feels good, does not hurt anyone, does not violate the Golden Rule and most good people will say it is right.
8. Seek harmony rather than balance: We need to aspire to live our lives each moment meaningfully rather than chop life into various pieces and try to make them fit. It is difficult but need to at least try. Our self, our family, our job and our beliefs and values is all that we have. Rather than see each of them as separate, we need to harmonise them by using passion, imagination and creativity and do love, work and service. We need to make sure the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
9. Accept rather than judge: It is easy to judge based on our maps, but we do not know what the map of others looks like. Accepting that other may have different maps and that they may also be true will help us accept others irrespective of any differences we have.
10. Love: Scott Peck probably defined it best: The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. This means that love is an activity, not just a feeling. It means to truly know and understand another person and yourself and doing what is needed to grow yourself and the other person.
11. Serve others: Do something for others every day. The best way to find ourselves is to serve others without any thought of reward; the reward is the service rendered itself. After all, service is the essential nature of human beings and when we find our essential selves, we find joy.
12. Forgive: Forgiveness is more important that just saying sorry. Forgive yourself and others who have wronged you and soul is cleansed. Peace, joy and calmness then arise. Forgiving is always the right thing to do.
-reflections from The Art of Significance by Dan Clark