Strive for significance; not just success


Have you ever wondered how the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize came about?

The Swedish chemist, engineer and industrialist, Alfred Nobel, spent a greater part of his life inventing and building a fortune for himself.

He invented dynamite and other more powerful explosives.

However, he is best remembered for using the bulk of his personal fortune to create the Nobel Foundation, which awards Nobel Prizes every year to those who make a marked contribution for the benefit of humanity.

There are many people who benefited from the prize over the years.

One interesting and fascinating thing about The Nobel Prize however, was that it came not as the original intention of Alfred Nobel.

He was mainly preoccupied with creating a fortune and nothing else.

Can you imagine waking up one morning to see the front page of the newspaper carrying your own obituary? T

his is exactly what happened to Alfred Nobel as one day, he woke up to read his own obituary. A French newspaper mistakenly thought Alfred had died when, in fact, it was his brother who had died.

Because of the error, the paper published an obituary about Alfred which condemned him for his invention of dynamite.

It reported, “The merchant of death is dead” and went on to say “Dr Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”

As Nobel read through those words, he was so distraught about how he was described and how the world perceived the manner he had lived his life for all the years he was on earth.

Nobel was so horrified by this depiction of his life’s work that he decided to devote the rest of his life to changing his image and redeeming his family name.

This man never wanted to be remembered in the manner that he saw in the newspaper that day. No one would want to be remembered for violence, robbery, destruction, bad leadership or other such misdemeanors.

Because Nobel wanted his life to be remembered for a worthwhile contribution to the cause of humanity, he changed his will to set aside the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prices to be awarded annually.

Nobel’s will directed that the bulk of his huge estate be used to fund annual prizes for those who, in the previous year, had most benefited mankind in five specified disciplines of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace.

The will was settled within four years and the Nobel Foundation was created. A Nobel Prize is one of the highest honours that an individual can receive.

The winner receives a gold medal, a scroll and a cash award based on the earnings of the foundation’s investments during that year.

Alfred Nobel had a chance to read his obituary before he finally died and it resulted in a change in the world for the better.

For over hundred years now, the foundation has been benefiting outstanding personalities the world over. Unlike Alfred Nobel however, we will not have the opportunity to read our own obituaries before we die and the only adjustment that can be made ought to be now.

Like Nobel, there is every need to commit to adding value to civilisation. The greatest question is; what will your obituary say? What should we do to change what we would or wouldn’t like reported in our obituary?

Because we still have breadth within, acting in line with our life’s purpose is the ideal thing. Life is not only supposed to be plied in the fast lane of success at any cost.

Instead, there is every need to enquire as to what we are doing in adding value to the world around us. When Nobel was busy inventing explosives, he never knew how the world around him was interpreting his actions.

The world was busy seeing “The merchant of death” in Alfred Nobel. The day of reckoning came when the premature obituary came before the death of the person and Nobel realised how the world had interpreted his actions.

Would you know how the world is interpreting your actions? Do you realise that there are some things that you feel are only known to you but you stand to be shocked that the world knows about those actions.

Every human being has an obligation to do those things that stand to add positive value to the world.

You may not necessarily benefit from the Nobel Prize nor make great contributions as the ones that other world personalities came up with but you should strive to be remembered for something worthwhile.

Choose to make a difference in your own unique way in line with the God given potential upon your life.

Don’t settle just for success at whatever cost but also strive for significance. Adding value to your family is the order of the game.

Doing something differently for the benefit of the country is what will count after you are gone. Going out of your way to do those things that haven’t been done before in the continent is the thing that should drive you above all else.

What of acting in such a way that the world will stand to point at what a determined person like you can do in a lifetime? The moment you do that, you will be adding something of significance to civilisation.

It is my prayer that someone of your calibre starts thinking of the ways through which you can be significant to the world. I know you have been engrafted with the seed of value addition that you possess.

Such is the value that should be emptied to the world before you die. That is the value they stand to point at when you are gone- the value of significance.

Noah Mangwarara is a motivational scientist and leadership expert. Contact:
0775 952 634/