The 29-year-old second row was a Test Lion four years ago but now the Munster skipper wants more than just a tour sport and extra Test caps.
"I have a Lions cap, I've played in Lions' Tests, and it's got to be more than that," said O'Connell, who started all three defeats to the All Blacks in 2005.
"We've got to go there and win."
Having made his Munster debut in 2001 and his Ireland bow a year later, O'Connell was used to the disappointments of missing out on success in the big games during the early stages of his career. Thankfully for O'Connell, for Munster and for Ireland, that has now changed.
Two Heineken Cups in three years, followed by an historic Six Nations clean sweep this time around, suggest that O'Connell is now clearly a man for the grand occasion. Lions supporters the length and breath of the UK and Ireland will be hoping that proves to be the case when the Springboks open their doors this summer.
"One of the tragedies of Irish sport was the 'give it a lash' mentality, which might be alright if you are clearly not good enough to win," O'Connell told the Sunday Times.
"We have teams that are good enough and if we didn't win, we weren't doing our jobs.
"Last weekend, we got the job done and still the season's only half over. We have the Magners League, Heineken Cup and hopefully the Lions tour.
"Something special needs to happen to bring a Lions team together. For me, the Lions are the '97 Lions.
"Before schools games, I watched that DVD to get me psyched up. Ian McGeechan, Jim Telfer and the team doctor - I can still hear their voices. Hopefully we can create something like what they had."