Move Beyond Success to Significance

(Address given by the Principal at La Salle Academy’s National Honor Society Induction Banquet on 29 April 2014)

Brother Thomas, President of La Salle Academy, Mrs. Romani, Vice Principal of Academics, Mr. Martin, Vice Principal of Student Life, Class Deans – Mrs. Richard, Mrs. Kelly, Mr. McVay, and Mr. McGinn, National Honor Society Moderators – Mr. Heroux and Mrs. King, members of the faculty and staff, parents, families, National Honor Society members and especially our student inductees, welcome to the 2014 National Honor Society Induction Dinner.  It is both an honor and a privilege to share this evening with you.

We are here to celebrate the excellence you have attained in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character as well as the outstanding grades in the most demanding courses that we offer at La Salle Academy.  Tonight we celebrate that La Salle strives to be a practical place.  John Baptist de La Salle recognized the real needs of young people and taught what they needed in order to function in society and in their faith.  Lasallian teachers, our teachers sitting here tonight, prepare students for their vocation and profession, for their personal life commitments, and for service to society and to the Church.


The most traditional way to measure the quality of one’s life is to evaluate success by listing accolades, achievements, and acquisitions. After all, in its simplest terms, success is getting what we want and most people want wealth and status.  As a good friend has stated on many occasions, “The only thing that money can’t buy, is poverty.”


Yet, as much pleasure as these attributes can bring, the rich, powerful, and famous usually discover that true happiness will elude them if they do not have peace of mind, self-respect, and enduring loving relationships.

Peace of mind doesn’t preclude ambition or desire for material possessions or high position, but it assumes a fundamental foundation of contentment, gratitude, and pride – a belief that whatever one has is enough and an attitude of active appreciation for the good things in one’s life.

Feeling successful can generate satisfying emotions of self-worth, but feeling significant – that one’s life really matters – is much more potent.  Peter Drucker, the great management guru, captured this idea when he wrote of the urge many high achievers have to “move beyond success to significance.”

The surprise for many is that one of the surest roads to significance is service.  It doesn’t have to be of the Mother Teresa missionary variety. Parents who sacrifice their own comfort and pleasure for their children are performing service, as are teachers, public-safety professionals, members of the military, and volunteers who work for the common good.

In addressing graduates, Albert Schweitzer once said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”


Let me congratulate all of the student inductees and members of the National Honor Society for attaining a goal open to only a handful who can qualify.  Let us also remember to congratulate your fellow students who did not quite make the cut off.  As the famous writer M. L. Boren stated, “You should have education enough so that you won’t have to look up to people; and then more education so that you will be wise enough not to look down on people.”


I am especially grateful to the parents of the inductees for their enthusiastic parenting over the past seventeen or eighteen years.  For you have taken to heart the message of the Gospel according to John (Chapter 21) Jesus says “Feed my lambs.  Tend my sheep.  Feed my sheep.”  We have the fruit of your labor sitting with us tonight grown from infants, nurtured in the love of their parents and the love of God.  In many ways we are celebrating your support system in nurturing the qualities of leadership, service, and character in your children.

Again thank you for allowing us to work with your wonderful children and welcome to this celebration.

Donald Kavanagh  

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