Significance is the sweetest success.
Sure, making millions is nice for the wallet; but making meaning in the universe is necessary for the soul.
That’s what you, as an entrepreneur, thought leader or artist are seeking.
To be significant.
To leave your mark.
To make a name for yourself.
Otherwise you reside in the hell of meaninglessness; which, from what I hear, charges a pretty sick rent. Plus the carpet smells like cat pee.
Instead, consider these ideas for making meaning in the universe:
1. Practice unrelenting single-mindedness. When you choose focus over fuzziness, making meaning in the universe becomes a natural byproduct. Take SMT, or Single Mindedness Theory, for example. I learned this concept from Salaimartin and Mulligan, two scientists who are smarter than me.
Their work explains Single Mindedness as: “The groups of people who are more able to focus on the minimum number of issues to gain greater power, thus enabling them to eventually get what they require.”
The universal secret is asking yourself focusing questions:
*What daily energy keeps you from keeping focused?
*How much time are you wasting (not) focusing on your priorities?
*Are you subconsciously keeping yourself busy to avoid the important?
*How much time are you spending on things that diffuse your focus and hamper your goals?
Self-probes like these help you stick a stake in the ground. Even if that means polarizing a few people, even if that means sweating in obscurity before you can cry in the spotlight. Each of those realities is payment for making meaning in the universe. After all, it’s awfully hard to resist a man on a mission. What do you have to give up to focus single-mindedly on what will set you apart?
2. Specialize in the impossible. Here’s how: First, think back to the last time you (or your organization) accomplished something most people told you was impossible. Second, ask yourself what steps you took – and what mindsets you maintained – to accomplish those impossible goals. Next, extract one-sentence lessons you learned from each experience into a bullet point list.
Finally, have your graphic designer convert that list into a one-page PDF that can be used as a handout, marketing piece or free download. You might even title it, “How We Specialize in the Impossible.” It’s a great reminder. People will notice. People will talk. And making meaning in the universe won’t seem so impossible. What do you think used to be impossible that has now become probable?
3. Trust that there is a place for your gifts in the world. Otherwise, why else would you have them? To impress your dog? Come on. Your dog is impressed when you fart. Look: You’re amazing at something for a reason. And you’ve been given your own plot of soil to cultivate.
Your challenge is to unite those inner elements and regift your originality to the world. Because whether or not you believe it, the world needs to hear your voice. So, go give it a chance to sing. Don’t be the annoying girl in the back of the karaoke bar who, every week, violently refuses to drag her lazy ass up on stage.
Sing. Sing your heart out. Sing like Whitney in The Bodyguard. Show the world what you can be at your best, and your voice will be the great maker of meaning. What corner of the universe is yours to transform?
4. Make a public and purposeful choice to play big. I started wearing a nametag twenty-four seven in 2000. I started my career as a writer, speaker and entrepreneur in 2002. But my company didn’t start to see profit until 2005. Why?
Well, success does take time. You’d be hard pressed to find a wealthy entrepreneur to disprove that argument. But what’s really spooky is that the year I finally started making real money – and, more importantly, making real meaning in the universe – was the same year I finally sacked up and got the nametag tattooed on my chest.
Lesson learned: When you publicize your willingness to commit with both feet – that is, to commit enough so you can’t turn back – providence will move to orchestrate the perfect conditions. And at that point, making meaning in the universe will be an unavoidable result. Is your commitment unquestionable?
5. Decide what are you doing this in the name of. Whether you’re an artist, entrepreneur or non-profit warrior, without a why, the what and the how become irrelevant. So, before you progress any further in your quest, I challenge you to unite with a higher order by thinking these items over:
*What were you mandated to cure?
*What are you on a mission to eradicate?
*What cosmic injustice have you committed to fighting?
That’s your currency. Your fuel. Your why. Root yourself in it. Otherwise your efforts remain hollow and misdirected. Why do you want to make meaning in the universe?
6. Loosen your grip on life. One of the reasons you’re not making enough meaning in the universe is because you’re blinded by the illusion that you control it. You don’t. You can only respond to it attractively. The hard part is letting go of your need to run the show. Consider auditing your control tendencies as follows.
First: Calculate how much time and energy you’re wasting on things over which you have absolutely zero control. Then re-prioritize.
Second: When circumstances are beyond your control, choose to experience them differently.
Third: If things you can’t control are controlling your life, discover what about your situation (is) within your control – that you can realistically change – and change that.
Remember: The minute you stop trying to control life and start allowing it to flow abundantly through you, meaning will make itself. Do you actually think you can go on controlling life indefinitely?
7. Go looking for trouble. Victory goes to the highly imaginative, the infinitely curious the partially insane. Therefore: Turn over lots of rocks. Be a hunter of patterns and explorer of problems. Become a pillar of curiosity and a ceaseless asker of stupid questions.
Instead of making waves – make a tsunami. And instead of rocking the boat – capsize that mofo. These actions will help you figure out what you’re the answer to. What you’ve been designed to cure. Just try not to end up in jail. Unless you’re Nelson Mandela or Hurricane Carter, making meaning in the universe is tough to do from a cell. What did you disturb this week?
8. Stop wasting your brilliant mental effort on negativity. When you misuse your energy like this, you don’t make meaning – you make people want to slap you. Plus, if you deplete your energy by staying mad at the world for not giving you what you want, you won’t have any resources left to actually get what you want.
Next time you feel the ghost of Debbie Downer rattling the chains of your heart, ask yourself questions like:
*How can I find this situation funny?
*What might I have done to invite this misfortune upon myself?
*How can I use this to become more of the person I want to become?
Remember: When you find purpose in your pain, it morphs into wisdom. What are you turning your problems into?
9. Success is more than one right decision. I learned this lesson on a recent flight from Tokyo to Atlanta, where I had the pleasure of sitting next to Brian Littrell from The Backstreet Boys. I thought his philosophy was brilliant in its simplicity. Especially coming from a guy who sold 100 million records.
“We’ve been around for seventeen years,” Littrell said, “and we’re the only boy-band left. We must be doing something right.”
Remember: Significance is incremental. Cumulative. One pebble at a time. Be patient as your mountain of meaning piles up. How do you make decisions?
10. Walk where no path exists. Forget what the sign says about preserving the landscape. To make meaning, you must leave tracks. Muddy ones. As long as you remember these four words: Move with more speed.
JFK articulated those very words in 1961 during a famous television interview with Sander Vanocur. “It’s either that,” he said, “or sit and wait while the world around you collapses.” Take your pic. Do you follow the path already taken, or go where there is no path and leave a trail?
11. You must learn to command attention. It’s impossible to make meaning unless you own (some) of the spotlight. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your private life. And that doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever.
But making meaning is a function of followership. And the more attention you attract, the more of it you can ultimately make. Without that attention and visibility, you’re just winking in the dark. How are you constantly renewing your membership to the limelight?
REMEMBER: Success without significance sucks.
If you (truly) want to count, to matter, to make a name for yourself, execute these practices today.
And if you need me, I’ll be here, in my office, specializing in the impossible.
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
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