Success vs significance

Private Property South Africa
Sue Clarke recently hosted LIV Village founder Tich Smith as he talked about being successful and being significant – and why success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“… Success is what people say about you when you’re alive…where significance is what people say about you when you’re no longer here. I’ve played sport and I have realised that success and what people say about you is very short-lived.

It wasn’t so long ago, some of you are probably too young to remember 1995 when we won the Rugby World Cup for the first time. Andre Joubert was the darling of this nation. All the women used to say to me what beautiful legs he had. I used to sit with Andre in Umhlanga and every girl and every person used to stopped to greet Andre. Last year I sat with him and had breakfast at Europa and people walked by. And I said to Andre “things have changed. Nobody even recognises you”.

The very next day I sat in the same place with little Patrick Lambie and the 20 year old girls were taking pictures of his motorcar because it had his name on it. I said to Andre, “times have changed, and they have changed quick”.

Success is what people say about you when you are alive. Success is gauged by how much money you have in your bank account when you die…where significance is gauged by how much money you give away to those less privileged than yourself when you’re still alive.

I think we all know about Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. They are probably the most successful people that have ever been in the industries which they took part in. But I think the most significant thing they have ever done is give away that wealth to look after the poor in this world.

Success is about ensuring your children get as many distinctions as they can in matric…where significance is ensuring your children get distinctions in life. Where have the manners, respect and love of our children gone? As we chase fame and fortune we are not giving our children the opportunity to get distinctions in life, but will make every opportunity to get all the distinctions they can in matric.

Jonathan Jansen was telling me about a young guy at Medlow Park in Pretoria. Before the legislation was changed, he wrote 23 subjects in matric and got 23 distinctions. Jonathan Jansen’s comment was “what moron would allow their child to write 23 subjects in matric”. He said that the child couldn’t speak to his colleagues or to his peers. He couldn’t converse or communicate with his parents or adults. He spent every minute of every day in his books. We need to make sure we give our children the opportunities to get distinctions in life.

Success is about profit in the present…where significance in about investing into the future. Let us start to invest in the lives of others. Let’s start investing in the lives of our children.

To be successful you need to have talents and gifts in business and sport, but to be significant you only have to have a heart for others.

Success does not always lead to significance, but significance will always lead to success. We saved the lives of little Valentino and Dawis. We will help millions of children to get distinctions in school, distinctions in life, and become leaders in our society. Let us change our mind-set from success to significance.

I hear so many people say that when they’ve got a degree, when they’ve got a decent job, when they’ve paid off their bonds, they will start to make a difference. Patrick Lambie, a young man who has made an impact on the rugby field. John Smit said to me, “Tich, I have never known a young man who has impacted so many people off the field in such a short space of time”. He said he’s never met a young man with love and concern for others like Patrick Lambie.

Jason van der Walt, a 12 year old boy from St Johns College in Johannesburg, feeds a million children every month. 12 years old. A young girl from Kimberly, she is now 12 we met her when she was 11. She has now put 5 people through university. She’s 12 years old. We don’t have to wait until we’ve got a decent job earning big money, paying off our bonds. We can make a difference right here and now.

If we could only change our focus from success to significance. There is nothing wrong with success. But success combined with significance will change the face of this nation. This country is in our hands.

Mother Teresa once said, “All I want to be is a little pencil in the hand of the Almighty God as he writes a love letter to the world”. I ask you today, will you be that little pencil in the hand of Almighty God as he writes a love letter to the poor, destitute and widowed orphan of this nation?

I pray that you will be that pencil. That you would write that letter.

This nation is in our hands. Thank you and God bless...”

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