Saturday, 2 February 2013

Significance, Part 2

Can I talk a little longer about significance?  The word has been stuck in my head for, like, a week now.

Last time I compared it to popularity and importance.  I'm just going to take that a little further. One of Merriam-Webster's definitions of significance is, "Having or likely to have influence or effect." 

How can I put this?  If popularity is wide and shallow (you influence a lot of people, a little bit - think, Justin Bieber taking a stance on abortion), then significance is narrow and deep.  I like the idea of significance, because it's less concerned with who's watching, and more concerned with making a difference.  Single moms, for example, may not touch a lot of people outside their family due to the demands of raising kids.  But the ones I know have sacrificed so much on behalf of their kids that they've had a SIGNIFICANT impact on them, because of their commitment and willingness to give whatever they had.

When I think about significance, I think about people who don't care about fame or fortune.  I think about people who look at the people they love, the things they care about, and then give AS MUCH AS THEY CAN to make things better in those small circles.  And, though they may not receive state funerals, they will will be deeply remembered, loved, and appreciated by the people they interacted with.  They change the lives of the people around them.

The world isn't always a great place.  But when it is, it's usually thanks to these 'no name' people who are willing to silently give kindness to others, be an example of goodness, and give deeply to those who mean something to them.  It's not the pastor at church or the politician, or the lady at the spa who makes life better for us. It's all of us.  Looking after the ones around us.

Start looking around at the people you know.  You'll realize that some of them have a significant impact on their surroundings.  Tell those people how much you appreciate them.  They probably don't ever hear it.  Those silent givers are the ones who make our world go round.

Attention is fun, and addictive.  Popularity will give you a lot of attention.  But when you set out to be significant, you get something way better in return.  You actually mean a whole lot to the people closest to you - the ones you're giving yourself to.  That's a pretty rewarding way to live your life.


  1. Thank you for this, Dan. What a wonderful bit of perspective :)

  2. I had a period in my life when I was very busy with community affairs--fire dept. EMS, leadership training, Red Cross, a women's group, etc, ten different groups in all. I became more and more tired, even though I loved each of these activities. Finally, a wonderful friend told me, "There are only so many hours in your life and when they are over, all these people you are spending your time and energy on will say--Ah, she was a good old girl, wasn't she. We'll miss her--but the ones who will truly miss you will be the ones who love you and are missing you now." Woke me up, that did! Strangely enough, the activities I left survived quite well without me. And I survived quite well without them. Hmmmm...who woulda thunk it?