You probably never cared that I gave up Twitter in the first place. That's fine. I feel like I'll probably stop talking about it soon. Please don't stop reading my blog. Heck, who knows, maybe all this spare time will make me more profound!
So, reconnecting with the biological people in my life has kind of been an interesting experience for me. First of all, it turns out that they are amazing, and why would I ever have ignored them to look at my phone?! From playing with my son to going for drinks with some really enjoyable and interesting business peers, I am blessed to know a lot of really REALLY cool people in the natural world. I bet the people I knew on my phone would be pretty cool too in real life, but isn't that kind of the point?
Anyway, after getting over the immediate-gratification-attention withdrawal I had after quitting Twitter, I've come to realize that we have a tendency to draw too short a line between the words popularity, importance, and significance.
Popularity: We love this one. I think it's beaten into us by the trauma of high school. This might be level one of influence. It means that people like you, and you have the ability to swing people's opinion. Any number of things can make you popular. Is your dad rich? You might be popular. Are you clever? Are you attractive? Do people see you around a lot? You might be popular. Do you have a lot of followers on Twitter?
Here's the thing about popularity. You can be a total IDIOT and still be popular. You don't have to watch TV for long to know that's the truth. Movie and TV stars, athletes, musicians? Seriously. The plus about popularity is that it's the easiest form of influence. But this one is also the most easily abused form.
Importance: Okay, this one's a step up from popularity. The word importance brings up a couple associations. One is influence. The other is accomplishment. In order to be regarded as important, people typically have proven themselves somehow - won an election, built a successful business, gained respect based on quality art or other work. It's a little tougher to be important than it is to be popular. You still get some idiots, but there's a level of credibility that comes with importance.
Importance is good, but it still falls short. The world needs important people. Important people do a lot of important work! They move the community forward. But there's this little nagging issue - status. Importance also assumes a level of status. While some important people do it for selfless reasons, there are a lot of people out there who just really LIKE being a big deal. And you can still be an idiot and be important (Cough).
I was sitting in church last Sunday (did you know people still do that?) and they did a bio on a couple people I've sat beside for years. One of them is Monybany Dau. Take 2 minutes, watch the video. His story is incredible!
Another is Lola French. Lola worked for years as the director of the Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre, helping women who didn't have the resources they needed to deal with their circumstances. After some time, she built a system to replicate what she had done here in Red Deer all over Canada. Now, if a community decides they need a pregnancy care centre, all they have to do is contact her organization, and they have all the terms of references, resources, and board policies prepackaged and ready to go.
You'd never guess that Monybany is the champion of a village in Sudan if you bumped into him at Superstore. You'd never guess that Lola has affected the lives of hundreds of women in extremely vulnerable situations if you were pumping gas next to her. They're not trying to be important. They're not doing it to win recognition. They're doing it because they're passionate about it! Because if they weren't, then who would?
See, significance isn't concerned with being a big deal. Know what I'd love? I'd love to know what I'm passionate about, and then give myself wholeheartedly to that cause, because I was uniquely positioned to move the needle in a way that no one else could. Significance is about being a big deal to the people right around you. It's about giving yourself to what you believe in - not because of the credit you receive, but because it's important. More important than popularity. More important than importance. It means that you are the hero of the people that mean the most to you - the ones who need you the most.
When it comes to influence, don't equate popularity to significance. It's the difference between McRib and Prime Rib.