One principle she spoke about was, “going beyond success, and being significant.” This important point made me pause and consider how easy it is to fall into the trap of focusing so much on success, work-life balance, breaking the glass ceiling, etc., that it’s easy to lose focus of finding ways to make a difference in the lives of those around us.
There are always opportunities to help those around you, but we often miss them because we are too focused on the next task. I was at a conference for five days last week, almost 3000 miles from home, and as I was walking to the first meeting of the day, I got a message that a friend of mine had died. I hardly knew anyone at the meeting. No one knew me let alone my friend. A woman I had just met approached me and instead of hurrying to her seat, she asked me if I was having a good morning – she surprised me by waiting for the answer.
Without realizing how much I needed her empathy, I looked up at her with tears in my eyes. Through her taking the time to listen, I felt the heaviness of my news lighten a little. How many times do we ask people how they are only to be out of sight before they even get to answer us? The act of kindness she displayed by stopping to ask, and caring about my answer, made a world of difference to me. What she did was significant.
She became significant to me because she will forever be a memory of someone showing compassion when I needed it most. Everyday we have the opportunity to make some small gesture that can positively alter someone else’s day. It can be as easy as smiling, or asking someone how they are and actually listening to the answer. Halstead says, “You’ll never regret smiling at someone on the street. Something so small can make someone feel so good, so why not do it?” With striving to improve our careers and reach the top, it’s good to take the retired Brigadier General’s advice and remember to work towards being significant, too.
Significance is so much better than just success. Halstead covers this poignant topic in her book, 24/7 The First Person You Must Lead Is You.
Categories: General, Leadership, Success