Several weeks ago, I entertained at a high end corporate dinner.
Over 700 people were in attendance. And this event was top notch. As the guests ate dinner, the hosts presented several awards.
My show was immediately following dinner.
That is the perfect spot for banquet entertainment.
People are digesting their food and comedy helps combat the lethargy that can accompany that.
The i-mag (image magnification) projected my act onto two huge screens on either side of the stage. From the moment the CEO introduced me the audience was on my side.
It was one of those evenings I exceeded my own expectations. The standing ovation followed and the client grinned ear to ear.
But that show isn’t why I am writing this article.
After I finished, the company presented several more awards. Finally the CEO stood on-stage and said something that made everyone pay attention.
I’d like you to pay attention too.
The CEO said he often finished these events with some words of wisdom or encouragement. He thought he would do something different this year, but the day before, someone asked what he would talk about this year.
He realized his words had an impact on some in the audience. “It was apparent,” he said, “from the person who approached me, that these words held meaning.”
So he racked his brain wondering what he could share.
It finally came to him.
A few weeks earlier he had been to a community picnic with his mother. He had grown up in that town and lived there for awhile after college.
At the picnic, people kept telling him that someone heard he was there and was looking for him. The person was a boy he had coached in youth football.
Finally, the boy, who was now a man with a kid of his own, found him and they had a chance to talk.
“Coach,” said the man, “I can’t believe you are here. I’ve wanted to talk to you for years but wasn’t sure how to reach you.”
It turns out the man remembered a time the coach had wrapped his ankles for a game. “I wasn’t a good player, I knew that, and you knew that. But you always encouraged me and treated me like everyone else. You helped me, you worked with me. At that time in my life, I needed that – and the impact you had made me believe in myself – that I was worthy.”
(I paraphrase – but the sentiment is there and the wording is close.)
The CEO did not even remember this. He remembered the man, but not the moment that had made such a profound impact.
Then he said to the audience:
Do you want to be successful? Or do you want to be significant?
Anyone can be successful. There are roadmaps for success. It takes a lot of work, but you can become successful.
Success doesn’t mean significant though. There are plenty of successful people who aren’t significant.
When you are significant, you leave a legacy. Your life has meaning.
I hear so many in this art that say they want to be famous, be a success.
Think about the famous or successful people who have taken their own lives. Fame and success don’t fulfill you.
How can you add meaning to your life?