Why We do what we Do Part 3 of 6 – Significance

Significance White Cat CoachingWelcome to Part 3 of Why we Do what we Do. Today, we are going to talk about Significance. I trust you have got value learning about Safety/Certainty and Variety/Uncertainty. Can you see how they are a type of paradox? In a way, they kind of complement each other as there can’t be one without the other. And, of course, we have the need for both (actually ALL the 6 Core Needs). We also touched briefly on how these needs can be met resourcefully or unresourcefully.

Validation Please…

I was once having lunch with a loved one who will remain nameless. I was right in the middle of telling them how much it meant to me to be a coach, with the skills to make a real difference in my clients’ lives, and how great it was to be doing something that I loved that was also helping others. My business was taking off, I was getting more clients and I was so excited but also scared – could I live up to expectations? This person stared blankly at me, and started telling a story about someone I didn’t know that had nothing to do with what I had just said. It’ was like I never spoke. I was gutted. I felt so ignored.

Significance is how important or recognised we feel. It could be a feeling of being validated. Like Certainty and Variety, we all have this need to some degree, it just might not be one of your top drivers. For example, if you are sharing a story of achievement with a friend or family member like me, or perhaps: “I just ran a marathon in my best time”… “I’m really excited my cat won Best in Show” etc…) and you get NO acknowledgement, this can be horrible. We all need to feel acknowledged or recognised.

Resourceful vs Unresourceful

Significance comes in two parts: you can either be a GIVER of significance or a GETTER. Givers meet their need for significance in resourceful ways: achieving goals, volunteering, stepping up and speaking up. They may choose to be a leader – of themselves or others. Getters will make themselves feel better by putting others down, gossiping, rebelling. They seek significance for the sake of being significant. There’s a lot of ego going on..

This need is probably the most challenging for most as no one really wants to admit they are driven by significance. However, if you are, and it drives you to get the results you are after, it’s OKAY. Knowing it’s one of your drivers and seeking ways of meeting ¬†this need in resoureful ways can be very powerful. Having the self awareness to stop and ask yourself: “Am I meeting my need for significance in the best way I can? Is there a better way? A more resoureful way that will move me toward my goals?”

Significance in Action

It is simply wonderful when someone validates you by either telling you you’re doing a good job or complimenting you on your clothes, car or cat. However, sometimes that sort of external validation can be in short supply. The cool thing is that you can still fill your need for significance by internally validating yourself. Recognising in yourself that you are doing a great job, or have great clothes means that you don’t have to seek external sources of validation or recognition. Step up and be a leader of ¬†yourself, confident in the knowledge you are awesome. And, while you’re at it, make an effort to give someone else some recognition (maybe they are craving significance more than you realise…). Make their day. Fulfill their need of significance. Whether they need it or not. Because in a way, when you do that, you’re fulfilling yours. Win win!

What can you do today that will fulfill your need for significance? Does it have to come from someone else? How can you make someone else feel recognised? Go on, and do that now!


  1. […] to part 4 of the Six Core Needs – or why we do what we do. How did you enjoy learning about significance? Did you see the paradox of certainty vs variety? Well, you are in for another paradox – that […]