From Success to Significance: 7 Habits of Highly Fulfilled People

By Dhiman, Satinder | Journal of Global Business Issues, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview
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From Success to Significance: 7 Habits of Highly Fulfilled People

Dhiman, Satinder, Journal of Global Business Issues


The present day unbridled quest for self-centered success has plagued many organizations. This reflective essay is about gifts of significance and not laws of success. It underscores the vital difference between success and significance, for one can be highly successful in the worldly sense and still feel completely empty inside. Aldous Huxley considered egotism to be the fundamental human disability.' This article discusses seven gifts subtly aimed at overcoming this inveterate human tendency. Sooner or later we come to realize that we are not going to take anything with us but we can verily leave something behind. All the gifts presented in this article are devoted to the art of leaving something behind. Paradoxically, in sharing these gifts with others, we ultimately bestow them on ourselves and unexpectedly discover a life infused with significance and fulfillment.

"Only those concerned with the problem of life and death should enter here. Those not completely concerned with this problem have no reason to pass this gate."

~Inscription inside the main gate of Eiheiji (temple of Great Peace) founded by Dogen Zenji, in 1244

"To study the Way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self. And to forget the self is to be enlightened by everything that exists." -Dogen Zenji

"The person of ignorance does not attain peace either by action or by inaction.

The wise becomes happy by merely ascertaining the Truth. (Ashtavakra Gita, XVIII, 34)

"Till the ego "I" is effaced, the Truth cannot be known." (Ibid, XVIII, 73.)

'It take us long to discover that the light we are seeking is in our own lantern,

and that our rice has been cooked from the very beginning.'

-A Zen Saying

Introduction: Success vs. Significance

This reflective essay is not about success as it is popularly understood. It is about living a life of real significance, a life infused with understanding, purpose, and fulfillment. It is important to understand the difference between success and significance at the very outset. Success is about getting, significance is about giving: We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give. Success is about doing, significance is about being: We are not human "doings;" we are human "beings." Success is external, significance is internal: Success aims to acquire external objects; significance aims to harness inner qualities.

Success is temporary, significance is long-lasting: Success comes and goes, significance stays and endures. Success is about having, significance is about knowing. Success is about changing oneself, significance is about understanding oneself. Success has to be freshly won and can be lost, significance is our abiding nature and cannot be lost. Success is over there, in the future; significance is right here, in the present. We pursue success, significance ensues: Success is acquired while significance is discovered and embodied.

Stephen Covey cautions that you don't want to climb the ladder of success only to find that it is leaning against the wrong wall. This statement captures the essence of the difference between success and significance. Covey further states that "If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster."

If you are looking for the latest recipe for success- the sure method to fulfill all your desires spontaneously, the Seven Invariable Laws of Success- then you need to look elsewhere for you will not find them in these pages. This article is about gifts of significance and not laws of success. In order to discover this significance for ourselves, we have to give these gifts to others. Since, truly speaking, there are no others, we essentially give these gifts to ourselves (self and others are inextricably interrelated and interdependent). This is what Dogen meant by 'to know oneself is to forget oneself.

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From Success to Significance: 7 Habits of Highly Fulfilled People


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