Successful enterprises have a cycle of life. Startups build a product or service, enter the market and attract customers. Once they’re over these initial hurdles, they enter a growth phase, rapidly increasing their revenue and market share with big gains year-over-year. They continue to work on their product, fine-tuning it as revenue starts to flatten and margins stabilize at lower but still attractive levels.
As these companies mature, growth slows even more, eventually flattening out — yet operational expenses continue to climb as they strive to compete with new players in the market. Finally, unable to keep up, burdened with bloated budgets, companies spiral into negative growth, marked by layoffs, high burn rates and eventual bankruptcy or liquidation.
Aging can seem like a scary prospect, but a wealth of scientific studies have found that youth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There are plenty of cases in which human beings peak well into middle and old age.
Teenagers, for instance, may have vitality on their side, but older people are generally more psychologically stable.
And so it goes with several phenomena people experience as they age.
Success and significance offer many of the same benefits but one brings a better nights sleep and a true level of contentment. For well over a decade I have been pouring resources into helping churches, organizations and individuals accomplish significance in my own search for significance. Through these experiences I have learned that success is fleeting—it is always relative and short-term in nature. Significance offers contentment because it can only be accomplished outside of ones self through efforts to improve other peoples lives.
Nobel Prize winner Edith Wharton once said, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” This is an amazingly accurate description of the difference between Type A and Type B personalities. Type A personalities are the candles—and they’re usually burning at both ends. Type B personalities, on the other hand, put out every bit as much light; they just don’t get as much recognition for it.
Type Bs don’t have all of that sparkle and sizzle that attract everyone’s attention. Since Type Bs aren’t as in your face about their contributions, they have a tendency to get mislabeled as lazy or indifferent.