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Wellbeing / Business psychology

From success to significance

Once you’ve proved to yourself that you’ve got what it takes to get a solo business going, perhaps it’s time to reach for higher ground.

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I don’t mean to go all Miss World on you, but lately I’ve been thinking a great deal about Flying Solo and its purpose beyond financially sustaining the people who work here and being a source of information for our community.

Those things are great, but not the source of tingles up the spine. I think significance comes about when I hear stories from business owners whose dreams got off the ground thanks to Flying Solo. That is life-changing stuff! And what gets me fired up for work.

Obviously businesses have to make a buck, too. But I find revenue generation an unimaginative metric for success (albeit a hard-to-achieve one.) It takes sustained effort, commitment, passion, focus and often many years before a business becomes financially viable. My observation is that once success of this nature is prioritised and once it’s achieved, only then do thoughts turn from success to significance. The following kind of questions are pondered:

  • How does my business contribute to the greater good?
  • If my business didn’t exist, would people miss it?
  • Does my business have a higher purpose?
  • Do my customers and (where relevant) colleagues identify with my company’s vision and values?

Want more articles like this? Check out the business psychology section.

I met a plastic surgeon who I think has done a very fine job of transitioning from success to significance. Her bread and butter are facelifts and tummy tucks, but she has a special interest in performing breast reconstructions on women who’ve had mastectomies, and while she says all her work is rewarding, these jobs are the ones that have the most profound impact.

"I think significance comes about when I hear stories from business owners whose dreams got off the ground thanks to Flying Solo. That is life-changing stuff!"

We talked about Angelina Jolie who, as an Oscar winner, has clearly enjoyed success in her work. But I believe she transitioned to significance by making the bold decision to share a deeply personal health choice as a means of raising awareness amongst women in a similar position to her.

I am sure there are soloists whose higher purpose has been built in from day one. But I took a step-by-step approach, proving my competence to my parents/myself/my partner and my friends before pondering some of the bigger questions.

It’s very easy to get lost in the busy-ness of business. But I highly recommend taking the occasional step back to consider ways you could elevate your business. Or perhaps you have significance interwoven to your daily operations. If so, good for you!

Share your inspiration or intention with a comment.

Sam Leader

is a former director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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