Is Success A Big Limitation?

Daniel Burrus
June 24, 2020

Daniel Burrus

One of the World's Leading Technology Forecasters and Business Strategists
Leadership Futurists Personal Growth

Is Success A Big Limitation?

I once gave a commencement speech where I made a comment that took the parents and graduates completely by surprise. I said, "I don't want you to try to live a successful life; it will limit you, as success is only about you and the accolades on your wall. Instead, live a significant life. Significance is about what you do for everyone else. Elevate your significance, and success will follow in a much more meaningful and impactful way."

Success Is Selfish, Significance Is Selfless

In order to find out where you and your organization are in pursuit of success or significance, we must first understand the difference between the two from a leadership and organizational level.

A successful organization is based more on surface value accomplishments, whereas a significant organization broadens its reach and impact, focusing on the difference it can make on a larger scale.

A prominent difference between success and significance is whether you are acting in a selfless or selfish way. When your mindset is trained only to focus only on success, you tend to be focused on what will benefit only you under the guise that with enough money, you can afford to be impactful. The problem with that assumption is that one never really knows what "enough" is.

When you set out on a business venture based on elevating the impact you will have on others, you shift your focus from your own personal desires to building something that everyone needs.

The Road To Significance

When someone aims for success alone, it breeds limitations, but once we break those limitations, we break free and find a pathway to significance. Take for example a rather inspiring individual I met who embodies a physical shift from success to significance. His name is Sam Schmidt, a former Indy race car driver.

Before racing, Sam was a successful businessman, purchasing his father's parts company in 1989 at the age of 25. He began racing at the amateur level, but ultimately decided he would work toward racing professionally in the Indianapolis 500, making his debut at the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series in 1995.

During the off-season, Sam was testing in preparation for the 2000 season when he crashed at Walt Disney World Speedway on January 6, 2000, rendering him a quadriplegic and for a moment, ending his racing career.

Skipping Your Biggest Problem

But he was far from done; his tragedy became a starting point in a personal transition from a life of success to one of significance. One might consider being a quadriplegic to be an impossible obstacle to overcome as a race car driver, but Sam did not. His first implementation of my principle of Taking Your Biggest Problem and Skipping It was to overcome his disability and race again.

There is plenty of new autonomous technology on the market today that could've aided Sam; however, instead he commissioned a tech team to help him be in full control of the car. And for his return, he wanted an exponential challenge: the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb competition; a winding climb up a mountain!

To solve any technical problems, the team used another principle I teach: Opposites Work Better. Instead of autonomous equipment, they used off-the-shelf technology, like sensors mounted on a headset that detected Sam's head-tilt motions to steer and a sip-and-puff device that he breathed into to accelerate and brake.

Helping Others

When I met Sam Schmidt, he had increased his significance even further by founding the nonprofit organization Conquer Paralysis Now, which works to find a cure for paralysis and spinal cord injuries.

Additionally, by using old technology in new ways to race again, he has altered positively the future view of other quadriplegics hoping to drive again. Since Sam's race, a number of other disabled race car drivers are behind the wheel.

Knowing what Sam did, I think it's possible to combat the shortage of truck drivers by adapting this technology to help get disabled veterans behind the wheel again, filling that role.

Before the accident, Sam focused on living a successful life, but after the accident, he started living a significant one, inspiring and helping others around the world and creating a new level of success.

Making the shift from success to significance professionally will allow you to find ever-expanding levels of success while elevating your significance and improving the world.

Daniel Burrus

Want Daniel Burrus for your next event?

Find out more information, including fees and availability.
Find Out More
Keep Reading
Collaborate With a Strategic Alliance to Find Success
Daniel Burrus
Daniel Burrus
July 01, 2020
Traditionally, the concept of success through collaboration in the business world ...
Is Success A Big Limitation?
Daniel Burrus
Daniel Burrus
June 24, 2020
I once gave a commencement speech where I made a comment that took the parents and graduates completely by ...
Which Trends Can You Trust?
Daniel Burrus
Daniel Burrus
June 17, 2020
Mention the word "trend" in a group setting and you'll find that most will shrug it off, the reason being that ...
Collaborate With a Strategic Alliance to Find Success
Traditionally, the concept of success through collaboration in the business world has been focused on eliminating competition to find success in ways that benefit the industry the competitors share. However, during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, success through collaboration was redefined when two tech giants, Apple and Google, collaborated o...
Read More
Is Success A Big Limitation?
I once gave a commencement speech where I made a comment that took the parents and graduates completely by surprise. I said, "I don't want you to try to live a successful life; it will limit you, as success is only about you and the accolades on your wall. Instead, live a significant life. Significance is about what you do for everyone else....
Read More
Which Trends Can You Trust?
Mention the word "trend" in a group setting and you'll find that most will shrug it off, the reason being that the word "trend" has a negative connotation to it, causing trends to be considered untrustworthy. Having an avoidance relationship with trends of any kind based on this aura can be a significant mistake in your career. Some trends are s...
Read More
Is the "New Normal" We Face a Soft Trend?
There will always be certainties about the future that we simply cannot change. Some are rather obvious, such as the reality that spring will always follow winter, summer follows spring, and fall follows summer. There are other future certainties that have nothing to do with the seasons, and that we all can agree we look forward to. One examp...
Read More
Company-Wide Innovation Is an Anticipatory Imperative
If you were to ask anyone in your organization to outline their daily responsibilities, you'd likely get a list that includes position titles rather than responsibilities, like sales or information technology. But what about something more crucial to the overall goals of the organization, like innovation? It is likely that employees don't...
Read More
Learning to Manage Opportunity in the Unknown
We all manage something in our lives. Whether we manage other people, an entire organization, sales or even just ourselves, management is part of our everyday lives and includes careful planning, well-thought-out direction and a sense of control. What happens when we apply that definition of management to the concept of opportunity? What if we w...
Read More
Post-Pandemic Success Will Be Determined by What You Do Now
Post-Pandemic Success Will Be Determined by What You Do Now, Not What You Do Post-Pandemic. No one ever thought that starting in this new decade, our booming economy and flourishing job market would be placed on "pause" due to a worldwide outbreak of a virus, yet here we are. 2020 has been an interesting year to say the least, but there are obv...
Read More
Hard Trends: Easier to Identify Than You Think
A well-worn cliche says there are only two things you can be certain about: death and taxes. With apologies to those who agree with that statement, there are many, many more examples of out-and-out certainties. Was Sunday followed by Monday last week? Absolutely. Will that be the case next week? You can count on it. A more timely and, in some wa...
Read More
Redefine Risk in the Face of the Unknown
In the past, organizations have practiced agility more than anything else because it is easy to simply pivot and put out small fires as they arise. But with the world facing a global pandemic, statewide lockdowns here in the United States, and a once-booming economy now seemingly frozen in time, organizations both large and small are caug...
Read More
Discover New Opportunities Never Before Available
Disruption is a central component of the Anticipatory Organization Model, focusing closely on how Anticipatory Organizations and individuals can look at disruption and see enormous opportunities. The untimely situation we currently face with COVID-19 is no exception; not only has every industry been touched by the coronavirus pandemic and subseq...
Read More