"Contribution" is a small word but has a beautiful meaning when we think about it. Peter Drucker, the management Guru, once wrote - "The crucial question is not, "How can I achieve?" but "What can I contribute". This is a profound statement, if we fully understand it. It asks us to replace the quest for success with the quest for contribution. It focuses on "what can be done", a question that leads to action. And importantly, it makes us to find our strengths and values, because our best contributions come when we execute from your strengths on things that we deeply value.
The greatest and the most admired people were successful because they found out what they should contribute and focused on the right things during execution. Most of us are so lost in our day to day activities that we rarely stop and ask ourselves the question - "What should I contribute?” Even if we ask, we rarely act on our findings. This simple question, when applied to any aspect of our life - work, family, friends and society - can lead to new revelations. A related question to ask is - "What are the results?” These results should be used as a regular feedback to adjust and correct ourselves in our path to contribution. Otherwise, it is easy to get carried away by "false victories" or to become too complacent.
What about success, money, fame, status etc which are dearer to the modern world than contribution? My view is that if we really identify our best proficiencies and deepest values and put them into a contribution, all these things will be often the by-products. In fact, success is defined by the contribution that led it to and can not stand on its own.
Think of the world as a noisy place and you have an opportunity (which is often to be found by conscious efforts and doesn't come on its own) to contribute. What will be your song?