On significance and how it robs us of lightness, freedom and self-expression

We all want to be signficant – to be someone rather than anyone, to be looked up to rather than looked down on.  And most of us spend our lives striving for significance and in the process we carry a heavy burden – all the time.  The cost of this is huge.  Significance robs us of a lightness in being and the freedom to simply be and do as we wish without worry about how we will be viewed by others.  significance also robs us of the natural way that we learn – by doing, by messing up, by doing again differently, by messing up until we final achieve competence and mastery.

I noticed this in myself recently;  significance is a huge thing for me underneath the surface.  How did I get present to it?  Recently, I have been helping my son to post the local newspaper and this has meant me walking house to house and pushing this newspaper through letter boxes.  First, time I did this I felt uneasy.  Second time I did this I felt uneasy.  And today I did it for the third time and noticed that I was secretly pleased that most of the houses were empty.  Why?  Because I did not want people to see me doing what I was doing: shoving newspapers through doors.  And why did that matter?  Because I had made a story about it: it is a low status activity done by low status people and so forth.

Interestingly, when I saw this I was able to give it up.  When I gave it up I was able to take my time rather than rush and by taking my time I enjoyed the experience.  I actually enjoyed being outside in the sunshine.  I enjoyed looking at the plant and especially the flowers in the different gardens.

I wonder in how many other ways I am being signficant or driven to be significant and so have a loss of freedom, of lightness, of playfulness and simply being fully expressed?  How about you?  Where does this show up for you?  And is the bargain that we have made and continue to make worth it?

Personally, I am up for trading in significance for freedom of being and self-expression.  And there is a long road ahead: addiction, especially when it is so subtle, can be difficult to give up.

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.

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