Striving for Success Or Real Significance?

We are so busy these days we could fill up an entire career just responding to our inbox.

All the work we are doing, does it produce anything of significance or contribute to others? All the work we do may matter to the business, and all the calendar planning, logistics, meetings, and agendas are the what in our lives. And it means nothing if we don’t contribute to the who in our lives.

My tombstone could say 3,000 meetings and 6,000 binders and it would be right. I hope it says something different

Peter Block. in his recent talk on the Blanchard Summit series, observed that we are afraid of monarchy and patriarchy. With globalization, we know someone needs to be in charge – serving the common good makes sense. however it isn’t necessarily common practice.

We want leaders more curious than certain.

Business success involves so many factors and significance can be more easily narrowed down to a sense of stewardship. Stewardship is more than fundraising, it’s holding power for the future generations. The next generation is our customer. I worked inside a pharmaceutical organization for over 3 decades.  I saw many leaders before me sacrificing their family time and health for me. At the time they were doing it for themselves, since we all want to be successful. When I talked with them after they retired, they had realized that toward the end of their careers they were doing what they did for someone else’s benefit, not their own. That’s significance. They became stewards of my future.

We will do things differently when the next generation is at the forefront of our decisions. And your planning is less about beating up your buddy, or lording a title or corner office over someone.  Collaborate with other outside forces and find commonality. Build a 1+1 = 10,000 mindset and the gains become exponential. That is significance, not success.

Legacy and the distribution of power adds value for the success of the next generation

Leader vs. manager

A manager gives direction and provides the predictability we need. And if they fail in their calculations or direction, things are not in control. All organizations need managers. The #1 value of a manager is not to be surprised. Leaders, on the other hand, create alternative futures. The #1 value of leaders is to inspire learning. In significance, connections and relationship replace control. In school we were all about getting good grades, and we had limited choices. That same hierarchical pattern we learned to get good grades is the same we use to have job success.

The difference between a bad manager and horrible manager, is that a horrible manager will cause you to create new opportunities away from that manager by leaving or getting so irritated you write a book.

Management training is largely about how to control others. Leadership training is more about how to connect with others. Leaders study how to build a vision, teams, and future leaders, and that becomes significant for the next generation.

Managers take credit for success. Leaders realize maybe the results would have been even better if they had gotten out of everyone’s way, and let their people simply do the work.

There is no corporate career ladder – it’s more a jungle gym and latticework of experiences. The new career is about community and purpose. Find the economics of empathy, compassion, and meaningfulness and you’ll see your significance and legacy in the eyes and attitudes of the next generation.

Thanks to Bailey Crumpler, Terry Johnson, and Dave Saylor.


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