By John O'Leary. This was originally posted on JohnOLearyInspires.com. When John O'Leary was 9 years old, he suffered burns over 100% of his body and was expected to die. He is now an inspirational speaker and bestselling author, teaching more than 50,000 people around the world each year how to live inspired. John's first book, ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was published March 15, 2016. John is a contributing writer for Huff Post and Parade.com. John is a proud husband and father of four and resides in St. Louis, MO. Order John’s book today anywhere books are sold.
A while back, I spoke with 40 individuals for a full day seminar. The goal of the event was to bring together some of the highest achievers, connect them with one another, and together expand their businesses and their lives. I was charged with stretching their minds, encouraging bigger dreams and reminding them that anything is possible.
To kick off my session I asked what they would do professionally if they knew they could not fail.
After a moment of reflection, a brave gentleman stood and proudly announced, “I’d make it big. I mean, like really, really big!”
I asked what “making it really, really big” meant to him? He said he wasn’t exactly sure, but he knew it included an increase in sales, expansion of personal accomplishments and significantly more success than any of his friends or former classmates.
This conversation was eerily similar to one I was part of almost a decade earlier with another gentleman. He, too, had striven to “make it really big.”
The difference was that the conversation wasn’t taking place in a boardroom with a lifetime of possibility in front of him, but in a hospital room with a lifetime of regrets staring back at him. Let me explain.
Is Success the Right Pursuit?
You see, in my late 20s I spent a several years working part-time as a hospital chaplain. One emotional visit was with a former business owner suffering from congestive heart failure.
Slouched in an over-sized hospital bed, connected to various tubes and fully aware of his fatal prognosis, he talked openly and passionately about his life.
He spoke of his business and its outstanding success.
But he added that it had come at the cost of things that mattered even more to him. He spoke disconsolately about his youth, his family, his health and how he had lost each of them through choices he made along the way. We visited for over an hour, and one of the final things he shared impacted me so deeply that I wrote it down in my journal that night.
He said, “John, I spent a lifetime sprinting up the success-ladder.” He looked away from me and out the window, before adding, “only to discover I had the darn thing leaned against the wrong wall.”
My friend, I coach individuals to discover passion, live vibrantly and make a difference. I partner with organizations to increase top line revenue and bottom line profit. I speak with sales teams to encourage greater results and passion for what they do. And I serve hospitals to improve employee engagement in order to elevate patient satisfaction and outcomes.
The point is that I love growth!
The reminder from this story, however, is that not only should our lives be a journey toward continual progress, impact and success, but that these goals must be achieved in accordance with our values, our principles and what matters most in our lives.
Nothing could be more painful than to gain the world at the expense of losing the very things that matter most.
Why Pursuing a Life of Significance Matters
My friends, I invite you today to make it big. I encourage you to climb high as a teacher, to soar as a salesperson, to expand as a business owner and to thrive as an employee. Choose to sprint toward significance rather than success and decide to thrive in life.
Just make sure the goals you’re charging toward are advancing you toward a life of true significance and not one of regret.
Before continuing your rapid climb, take pause long enough to ensure the ladder you’re climbing is leading you up the right wall.
Because if you don’t change direction, you may end up exactly where you are heading.
Today is your day. Live Inspired.
Looking for your next healthcare speaker? Get in touch with us at the Capitol City Speakers Bureau today to make your healthcare event a success!