We all harbor two things:

  1. A desire to be significant
  2. Fears about our ability to be significant

These two things compete for our attention all the time. Which one do we listen to? The desire, or the fear?

Our desire to be significant is…significant. We want to be seen. We want to matter. As we’ve seen, the need for belonging and connection is a fundamental driver of the human motivation to act.

When we were younger, our strategies for being significant were relatively immature. We’d try to please others. We’d throw a tantrum to be heard. We’d try to control everything. Some of us hold onto these strategies well into adulthood. Because these strategies work. They can give us a sense of security and we feel like we’re seen. We matter.

The problem is, they’re limited. Because they’re driven by fear. A fear that if you’re not seen, you don’t matter. You’re insignificant.

As we get older, most of us begin to rise above our insecurities and turn our attention outwards. How can I make a difference to others? How can I improve the world beyond myself? Our focus is on making a difference in the wider world. The desire for significance takes on new meaning.

The challenge is to make the desire bigger than the fear.

If we listen to the voice of fear, we’ll amplify it. If we listen to our desire, that gets to play centre stage.

Which voice are you listening to?


This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book “Change Makers. Make your mark with more impact and less drama”. Like a copy? Please contact Belinda.

Photo by Digby Scott


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