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The significance trap!

Jun 07, 2019

The significance trap!

We’ve all been there! Right from the times we were at nursery. My toy is bigger than yours. I am taller than you. My dress is nicer than yours. Oh, look at my glasses they are brighter than yours, the latest fashion. It doesn’t end here, this is just the start.

Then you grow up, become a teenager perhaps, then it is about the boyfriends, the hair, the make-up, the latest phone. Then you go to college, it is about the university you want to get into and the grades you have.

At university, it is about how many parties you go to, how much you can drink (how much more you can drink vs your mates), how much you revised, what placement you landed, what grades you are going to achieve to get the top job you want, and the list goes on.

You land on the job that you have been striving to get. Finally, all the work you have done paid off and you arrive at your dream job. Everything is going well. It is amazing. You feel important. You feel significant because someone has given you a ‘title’ – project manager. You must be important.

Then you realise there are other project managers around you. You realise they manage (seemingly) more important projects than you. They have people reporting to them, they go to important meetings. In fact, they get invited to all the important meetings. You start to think: ”why does she get to go to all those meetings?” I have as much experience, I do great work, if not better”. All of a sudden being a project manager doesn’t seem so significant anymore. You want more, you want to ‘progress’; you want to be the one who gets invited to those important meetings; who gets mentioned/suggested every time a big project comes up.

Then, you get promoted to the senior (seemingly bigger, better, more experienced) project manager job. Now you get invited to most of the important meetings. Everyone is seeking for your professional advice on what to do on the next big project. Life is great. You are happy

…But then you realise there is another person just like you who not only gets invited to meetings, she is leading the meetings. She is calling the shots. She gets to delegate to others who could do the job for her. Your new job and responsibilities don’t seem so significant anymore. You want to be the one who calls the shots, who gets to delegate. You want more ‘significance’.

…I think it is pretty clear now, what happens next. You get the next job, and the one after that but you are never happy! Why? Because you are stuck in ‘the significance trap!’.

Why do you get stuck in the significant trap? Why do you constantly seek ‘progress’ to feel happy? Are you really seeking that ‘progress’ or are you really seeking something else? Why would you want to be promoted constantly or keep going for the seemingly bigger things just to prove to yourself to others, if you knew who you really were at the core and secure in yourself?

If you are not secure in who you are, you are not ‘free’ you will never be free of fear. Fear of being insignificant. If you are full of fear, you will never really ‘progress’ in life. You are going to stay in the significance trap!

About 15 years ago, Madonna was interviewed by Vogue magazine and the first question they asked was: ‘what drives you in life?’. Much to the surprise of the interviewer, she said: ’My whole life I have been driven to prove my significance to others and get away from being seen as mediocre’. ‘So, every time I accomplish something, a top of the chart song etc., I feel that I have proven to myself and all these other people that I am somebody’. ‘but the problem is once I have the next success, the novelty always wears off and I just need to keep going to prove to the world that I am somebody and I am significant’. What she said at the end was most profound: “My struggle has never ended, and I guess it never will’.

So, how do you get out of the significance trap?

The only way is by knowing who you are at the core, what your core values are and what really drives you in life/your higher purpose. When you know these three things, you have the power to take control of your life regardless of external factors. You no longer need to prove yourself to others or be significant in the eyes of others. Your happiness no longer depends on things on the outside; but purely driven by things from the inside.

When you can do that, you really can drive your life to where you want to go and achieve the results you want to achieve; and not because you want to be/seem significant (better than others) but you want to really progress and be a better version of yourself.

If you want to know how you find out who you are, what your core values are and what really drives you in life, check out my page here.

If you would rather talk to me in person, then click here


Tulay Massey


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