Friday, July 20, 2012

In Search of Significance

What's this life for?  What purpose do I serve?  Why am I doing this?  Why am I here?

At some point in our lives, we have jostled these questions around, and they are truly perplexing ones. Without faith, it is a hopeless question.  This constant battle to figure out our earthly purpose tears at us, and in times of weakness it brings us to our knees.   So what is the purpose of this post?

The purpose of my post is significance and how we find our own.  If you think about it, every student, teacher, and leader in education is in search of it.  Some feel that they find it in accolades and accomplishments.  Others find it in the daily completion of a routine of activities.  It can be found in the short-term through the tangible things that we receive, but all of the things listed above have one thing in common.  They are man-made and can't guarantee us perpetual significance.

Significance is not found in what you receive, earn or achieve. Significance can only be found in what you give.  The reality is that the things you gain are easily forgotten.  Can you name the last SuperBowl champion, teacher of the year or last year's accountability rating?  That is because these things are permanently irrelevant in our lives.  They are events that disappear from our minds faster than they appeared.  Life moves faster than our accolades, and we are pressed to replace them quickly with an even bigger feat.

Now if I ask you who was the most inspiring teacher you ever had, someone who was there for you in your darkest hour or the greatest influence on your life.  These names flash to the forefront with lightening speed.  Why is that?  These memories consist not of things but of people.  They are critical to our DNA.  They made us who we are.  Even the most terrible people in our lives are significant because they played a role in our hard-wiring.  They shaped us in how we relate to others, how we serve others and how we guide our daily lives.

So what does this all mean?

It means that we have a constant internal battle to pay it forward.  If we truly are in search of significance, we are not looking for the next big thing to do.  We are looking for the next person to help, and we want the talent that we give to be of  grand and long-lasting nature.  It is this constant desire to ensure that what we do changes the lives and more importantly the moral fiber of the person that we intend to help.  Because if we are able to make an immense change in someone's life, that means that our lifeblood will continue to flow forever.  We will have found a way to signify ourselves by developing value in others, and I can find no better way than this to discover our significance.

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