Carla Ann HarrisI had the pleasure of meeting with one of my colleagues, Phil S. recently and among other topics we started talking about philanthropy. We found that we both shared passionately in the Biblical notion, “to whom much is given, much is expected” and that we both spent a fair amount of time and financial resources giving back to our communities and to others.

During the conversation, Phil thought it might be a good idea to have a breakout session to help people structure ways that they could be impactful in their community and build upon their professional legacy and he casually said, “Yes, it would be great to help people understand the journey from success to significance.” And the phrase stuck with me.

As I thought more about it, I reflected on the fact that it is one thing to attain a measure of success, but it is quite simply something very different and much more powerful to transform one’s success into something that is meaningful for someone else, for other people. That is indeed what makes your success significant. Using your talent, your intellect, your dollars on behalf of others creates a multiplier effect that is far more significant than you as one person, attaining an accolade or earning dollars.

When we individually accomplish a task, receive another promotion, significantly enhance our earning power through ascending the corporate ladder or successful entrepreneurship, or receive an appointment, there is no question that we benefit, our families benefit, our friends and acquaintances are happy for us, and mentees are inspired even more, but if we leave these life events right there, then we are foregoing an opportunity to have even greater influence and to extend the life and the meaning of what we have accomplished.

In order to make your success truly significant, you must leverage your dollars and your influence to attract more dollars to a worthy cause, you must leverage your accomplishments to gain credibility and an audience for causes you believe in, you must leverage your respected voice to influence positive action on behalf of those who are less fortunate than you are, you must leverage your time in mentoring and sponsoring someone else’s success. You can and must leverage your success to bring other supporters along to improve the world that is around us, at the community level, at the regional level, at the national level, and even at the global level.

You can and must use your success to teach and inspire others about how to move from success to significance.

I am clearly passionate about maximizing one’s success as I write about and often speak about in public and corporate venues, but as I move forward I will be even more actively engaged and mindful about extending that success so that it is even more significant. I invite you to do the same.

-Carla Ann Harris