“A life isn’t significant except for its impact on other lives.”
– Jackie Robinson
A desire for significance is at the core of every human being. This can’t be mistaken for fame, popularity, or even success, which become hollow substitutes for significance. What we want is something much larger than that- to mean something to people who are, or become, meaningful to us. It’s a matter of entering into the life of another person, where our existence in their life adds value.
For centuries, people have talked about the importance of community. It’s through community that we are truly able to find the significance that we desire. Community allows us an opportunity to be a part of the lives of the people around us, to engage with them on personal and professional levels, and therefore add value to their life. In doing so, we quickly find that those people also add tremendous value to our own lives. They become the people we want to celebrate with when things go well, and the people we want to confide in when moments in our lives are tough to bear.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve truly enjoyed intentionally seeking out a collaborative environment with people like myself, all of whom are learning to build an airplane while they are flying it, as well as personal connections. Seeking community, both professionally and personally, creates a camaraderie that urges people to engage with one another, sharing both successes and failures in an effort to build one another up. While I would argue that the benefits of community far outweigh the costs, I am not naïve to believe that being involved in a community doesn’t present a risk factor.
The dangerous side of community is that we have to be open and allow ourselves the discomfort of true vulnerability. In some ways it’s easier to live a life away from community, where we only allow people close enough to know what we want them to know about us. The risk of not engaging in community is that we never find the true significance we long for because we choose not to enter into the joys and hardships of others and share in those experiences with them. I believe that there are always opportunities to become a part of the lives of the people around us, and I am appreciative of people who have taken that risk with me and for me, for the great people I’ve met over the years who have become a part of my life story, and for their support and interest in my personal and entrepreneurial success.
Editor’s note: Significance is something we all naturally desire. In order to find that significance, it is necessary that we pursue community. The barrier for entry into authentic community is laced with risks and fear, but the benefits of fully engaging and being vulnerable are undeniable. Just like you and I, there are others seeking that community and searching for significance. All it takes is one act of vulnerability. One transparent conversation. The ball is in our court. How will we choose to act?