Success, Significance, & Legacy

Karl R. LaPan President & CEO, The NIIC

A colleague of mine has in his office a placard that reads “Success, Significance & Legacy”. The placard serves as a reminder that there are three “big” stages you might go through during your career. While he is 80 years old, each day he intentionally thinks about how to build and extend his enduring legacy, and more importantly, how he might add value to others each day.

If you are a business owner, where are you in these three stages (Success-Significance-Legacy”), and where would you like to be? We all need to occasionally pause and consider what we want out of life, and what we want our life to stand for.

If you haven’t read Bob Buford’s book Halftime, you should. Bob states, “The first half (of your life) is busy with ‘getting and gaining, earning and learning,’ doing what you can to survive, while clawing your way up the ladder of success. The second half of life should be about regaining control, calling your own shots, and enjoying God’s desire … for you to serve him just by being who you are, by using what he gave you to work with.’ What lies between the two is ‘halftime’.”

So if you are chasing success, a business builder may be focused on profitability, growing their customer base, finding outside investment or adding new employees or buildings. Essentially, this stage is about keeping score and accumulating stuff.

So if one is chasing significance, a business builder may be focused on how he/she is paying it forward, or how he/she is making other people’s lives better. Essentially, this stage is about surrounding yourself with people who make you better, dreaming big and becoming the best version of yourself.

So if you are chasing legacy, a business builder may be driven to make significant impact. Legacy is about your reputation, and what your personal brand promise is to the world and to your family. Across the U.S., serial entrepreneurs are transforming communities (Tony Hsieh in Las Vegas, Jeff Vinik in Tampa) to make the world a better place. Essentially, this stage is about following your passion and being part of a greater purpose. In this stage, it is not about you but about the collective us.

Another good book is one written by Adam Grant called Give and Take, he describes Givers as “people who perform all sorts of selfless acts with no expectation of reciprocity.” Business Builders seeking legacy are unequivocally givers.

Entrepreneurs often feel lonely or isolated. These feelings can lead to anxiety, stress or feelings of abandonment. Entrepreneurs need social interactions and networks that can encourage them, inspire confidence and that can provide the emotional support to navigate through the highs and lows of launching and growing a company. Places like The NIIC provide business builders the emotion support system so they can build their social network, create a sense of connectedness and colleagiality to reduce isolation and loneliness and inspire each entrepreneur to stay committed to their business venture. Business Builders are courageous individuals and should be acknowledged as such.

Taking all of this into account, what stage are you in, and how satisfied are you with it?


Enter search term...

close ×

REIMAGINE: Survive and Thrive During COVID-19

Browse our new digital guide for strategies and resources

Read Now