What exactly are you measuring?

 

How do you measure success?

Here is the third element in my success formula and I have termed it measure. I am going to encourage you to take great care when choosing what to measure and how you are measuring it on the road to your success.

This article is the fourth part in my success formula series. Make sure you check out part one here if you have not already read it.

So, how do you measure your success?

Over the years, I have set a great many performance measures myself and I have been subject to many performance measures set for me by other people. Some have worked well but most, and I am almost embarrassed to report this, have failed miserably.

What is going on here? Am I some sort of uncontrollable maverick who plays by his own rules whilst giving no respect to authority? Probably the wrong hypothetical question to ask because that’s often what I am, and it might well explain why I now run my own business.

A better question might be, “Why did so few of the measures work as intended?”

Suppose you choose a success measure and inform everyone concerned that they are now working towards that measure. Whenever a measure is chosen it instantly becomes a focus point and most people begin to work toward achieving that measure. Great you say, because that is you wanted and expected to happen.

Suppose you are a business owner who wishes to minimise accidents within your organisation. You clearly place a limit on the acceptable number of accidents and you even invest in setting up a fancy new reporting and dashboarding system. If the accidents limit is breached, then the staff will all be penalised by a lowered year-end bonus. Great plan – save for the fact that the staff will now be less likely to mention accidents and far more likely to cover them up. The staff are working by the numbers and trying to achieve the good measures and protect their bonus. You believe your business is a very safe ship but if someone were to have an accident, or worse, which could not be hidden then the HSE inspector would probably disagree.

A more enlightened business would not punish accidents but rather seek to drastically reduce the chances of an accident. They might set a target for “near miss” or “potential for harm” reports. They might put a simple system in place which allows for both reporting and recommendations for improvement. They could build such a target into the bonus scheme. People would look to place reports whenever possible. Sure, you might get some frivolous or pointless ones, but you will also get some golden ones which could literally mean the difference between life and death for your staff and your business.

My point is, you must take great care to measure performance effectively. This applies equally to personal measures and the measures you set for others.

To negate something, our brains must think about the something then apply the negation to it. For example, if I set myself a target of zero biscuits my intention would be to eat no biscuits however I find myself immediately thinking about biscuits to tell myself not to eat them. Inevitably, I end up eating biscuits because I am thinking about them.

We humans tend to focus and even fixate on the measurement target whether it put in a positive context or a negative context. The classic illustration of this is to challenge someone not to think of a bright blue floating tree. Go ahead and try it yourself.

A better trick is to set myself a target of only eating healthy things. This forces me to think about healthy things and, whenever the subject of biscuits comes up, I can more easily ignore the biscuits and eat an apple instead.

Sometimes you might set too vague a measure. Intangibles like happiness, fortune, wealth, beauty, etc… are wonderful aims but how will you know when they are achieved? You need to be very specific about what you mean by beauty or wealth. What will have to happen for you to feel beautiful? What does wealth really mean to you? These are slippery definitions at best. For example, you could spend vast amounts of resource on plastic surgery and gym memberships only to find the external beauty you create is not the inner beauty you are after. For another example, you could spend your life endlessly chasing money in the belief that lots of money will make you wealthy when your true definition of wealth is having a happy family who love you and each other deeply.

So, what is your true measure of success? Is it a positive or negative measure? Perhaps you will have attained something or accumulated a desired amount of something? Is it wholly tangible or wholly intangible? Is it a mixture of both?

Take your time and choose your measure(s) wisely and you will hugely increase your prospects for gaining the success you seek.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. Keep an eye out for the rest of the series. Why not click on the “follow” button and subscribe to the blog to get a reminder?

Why not check out the other series posts?

Part 1 The Success Formula

Part 2 And Your Reason Is?

Part 3 What Are You Aiming At?

Go deeper by shifting your perspective

Sometimes, taking a different viewpoint can change your life.

I watched another short but fascinating video on the BBC News channel this morning.

Titled, “How I found out I was black,” it concerns Brazilian priest Brother David who had always believed he was white until a classroom game changed his perspective and indeed his whole direction in life.

It is well worth a watch and I’ve put the video link at the end for you.

Now, I am not about to begin analysing the wonderful and complex Brazilian multi-cultural melting pot. It is an incredibly diverse and vibrant part of the world and long may it continue.

What is interesting to me is the transformational aspect created when taking an unfamiliar perspective.

In this case the perspective shift was somewhat thrust upon Bro David. He had previously thought of himself as white and the whole experience appears to have been quite something for him. There will likely have been a complex whirl of emotions going on during the transformation, which started as a game conceived by some fellow students, and it subsequently led him to become an ardent supporter and champion of black rights and educational opportunity. Good for him I say.

One of the 4 key pillars of emotional intelligence is: understanding others.

It is an area many people dabble in and they can form a good understanding of the opinions, beliefs, values and feelings of other people but this is often only a superficial understanding. They then base decisions, relationships, negotiations, etc… on this superficial understanding. It’s a bit like reading a non-swimmer reading a book on swimming then jumping in at the deep end and expecting to front crawl like a champion.

Have you ever felt hard done by when judged by another? “They don’t even know the real me,” you say.

The real rewards are to be found at a much deeper level. There is an old saying about, “walking a mile in someone’s shoes,” before you make any judgements or decisions about that person. We can never truly know the whole story of course, unless we somehow become that person. We however, can get a better picture than most by examining them from a distinct perspective; their perspective in fact.

Most people, myself included, are most comfortable viewing and experiencing the world from our perspective. It is generally termed the 1st person perspective.

The view of the other person concerned is known as the 2nd person perspective.

Why not experiment a bit and stretch yourself by analysing situations, interactions and events from an unfamiliar perspective? What do you think the world looks like or sounds like from the 2nd person viewpoint? How do they feel? How might their personal history impact their experience of the world? How might you appear to them? How might you sound to them? What might your words and gestures mean to them? How might they see the current situation from their perspective?

You will not necessarily be correct in your interpretations. In fact, you will most likely be wrong most of the time as we humans are not very good at mind-reading. What you will get a good handle on is the fact that people and situations are always far more complex and nuanced than we first believe. This knowledge will make you far more careful about judging other people and far more diligent in seeking to understand them more clearly and deeply through dialogue and shared experience.

Try this out with as many different people as you can. People you think you know well and people who re relative strangers to you.

It will not be easy at first, but give it some time and practice and you might find your interactions, and even relationships, with these people improves markedly. You may well never think about yourself and your interactions with the world in a superficial way again.

Here is the BBC video link. Enjoy.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-latin-america-42581913/how-i-found-out-i-was-black

 

The Logan Paul blunder and the importance of an EI pre-flight check

 

One ill-judged comment really can bring your whole world crashing down around you.

I just read an interesting article on the BBC news channel today. It recounts the drama unfolding on the internet regarding the ill-conceived comments made by one Logan Paul, a quote “American You Tube star,” and the ensuing online backlash.

I confess I have not watched the video myself – life is too short and I’m too busy – so I am not making any judgements or criticisms of any kind about the actual content or the associated discussions. It is easy to throw accusations and blame around and I’m not above dropping the odd rick now and again myself.

What is fascinating to me here is the lack of Emotional Intelligence (EI) displayed by Logan Paul when posting this video. He, and apparently the people who advise him, failed to consider the potential upset the video may have caused others when he sent it to 15 million subscribers. I suspect he is not alone in his misery. I have dropped myself in the proverbial many times throughout my life via poorly judged comments and statements. We all do it from time to time. I am better able to learn from my mistakes nowadays.

What can you and I, and Logan Paul if he ever reads this, do to reduce the likelihood of making such mistakes in the future?

In its barest essence, EI comprises four parts:

  • Understanding of self
  • Regulation of self
  • Understanding of others
  • Managing relationships with others

After much research and experiential wound licking. I always recommend running a pre-flight check of any message before you deliver it.

Let’s apply a potential thought experiment to the Logan Paul scenario (hypothetical of course but it illustrates the process).

Understanding of self – Logan likely understands himself well enough. He knows what he likes and gathers like-minded people around him. This displayed self-knowledge and willingness to share with the world is likely to have contributed to him having 15 million followers in the first place. So far so good. Tick number one for the understanding of self.

Regulation of self – the wheels are wobbling a bit here. Logan needs to put out material for his channel which his audience will enjoy. He has clearly been doing a reasonable job so far. The problem for Logan this time is he has failed to separate what he feels is suitable from what his audience thinks is suitable. What he thinks is personal of course but not all of what he thinks is suitable for sharing. This box should have a tentative cross in it or at the very least a question mark. If he felt world would genuinely benefit from this message he could have tested the waters with some trusted people outside of his crew to get a go or no-go decision.

Understanding of others – this is where the rot should have stopped and would have done if he had run such a pre-flight check. Logan must have felt he had a solid handle on how his followers think. This was clearly not the case. He stomped all over untested ground and fell into the quicksand of outrage. There are certain broadcasters who specialise in dark or risky material. People know this and either love them or loathe them. It appears here, however, that Logan sprung this ego-driven nugget of self-satisfying material on an unsuspecting audience. They likely feel let down and misunderstood as much as simply outraged by the content. Test your material gently and get to know your audience limits before dropping bombshells. There should be a cross in this box and a no broadcast decision to follow.

Managing relationships with others – now an ongoing saga. Due to his lack of audience understanding, poor old Logan has mishandled his relationship with them. I believe he has apologised but for Logan getting through this will be a big test of his character and mental toughness. This avoidable phase is now a work in progress and it will be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks. Perhaps I’ll put out a part two.

Why not consider running your own pre-flight check for all your messages? With practice and diligence, it can become a positive habit and, when it becomes a habit, you’ll find it happens almost instantly for you.

Don’t do a Logan Paul. Your pre-flight EI check could save you a world of hurt.

Here is the BBC video link if you’d care to watch:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-42538495

 

 

What are you aiming at?

 

If you have no clue where you are going it does not matter which road you take.

This article is the third part in my success formula series. Make sure you check out part one here if you have not already read it.

The second element in my formula is goal and I am going to encourage you to embrace the power of goal setting.

I can almost hear you screaming, “Oh no! Another article on goal setting? Enough already.”

Well, yes and no.

I’m not going to discuss how to set goals, but I will look at why goal setting is so critically important to achieving success in any endeavour and I will also briefly discuss two classes of goals and why it is good to know the difference between them.

When you set a goal, you are making a commitment, either to yourself or to the world at large. You are setting a clear intention to do or achieve something. You should set your goals with great care. How you set and handle your goals says a lot about your character, resilience and mental toughness. Some people set goals and fail repeatedly, yet carry on until they get their big win. Some people fail once or twice then give up entirely. Some people never try anything at all. Some people go all in for the big prize whilst others are in it for the long-haul. There are many variations. By the way, I will talk more about measuring success and failure and other key goal factors in other articles.

The key message I want to put across here is that, all other things being equal, forming a well-conceived and well-designed goal will give you a far better chance of success than not having a goal at all.

We humans are easily distracted creatures. We will wander off track.  Having a compelling goal gives us something to come back to when we wander, like scuba divers might use a safety line to guide them to a shipwreck then back up to the dive boat again. If we don’t have a goal we could end up anywhere. Some people are happy to drift through life like this but I’m not. I create goals for myself.

I firmly believe in and follow the tenet, “If you want to get ahead get a goal.”

There are two classes of goals I want to mention now, namely outcome goals and process goals.

Most large goals employ both classes at various times but, I believe it is important to know the difference between them and when to use each one most effectively.

Outcome goals are goals which have a defined result or target to be achieved, often within a clearly specified period. I am writing this on New Year’s Day, so it is apt because outcome goals are the ones we are all familiar with. We generally form our new year resolutions using outcome goals. They can be very powerful, but they can also carry within them the seeds of their own failure. With the very best of intentions, we all tend to set very lofty, large and distant goals, and this puts immediate pressure on us. For example, “I’m going to work out and lose 20kg in weight by the start of the summer holidays and I mean it this year, no excuses.” It has solid intention but there is no clear route to follow. As I mentioned, we humans are easily distracted. The first setback often becomes a terminal block and we feel down because we gave up. Better luck next year.

A process goal is a one where the goal is to complete certain activities or actions on a regular basis for a specified amount of time. There is no expected result as such but because you will follow a regular and repeated process you will gain your successes and results along the way. An example might be, “I am going to go to the gym and work out for an average of 3 times a week for the next 6 months.” There is flexibility here and options for catch-up if obstacles are encountered. There might be any number of outcomes, both positive and negative, through following this process and you will discover them as you work out for the 6 months. When the 6 months is up you can look back and compare your before and after status if you need an outcome assessment. Your focus will be on taking as much control as possible over the process itself and how you follow it rather than on a distant goal which you may or may not achieve.

It might look like I’m down on outcome goals. Not at all. They each have their merits when designed well and used appropriately. They each have drawbacks which need to be accounted for.

I won’t recommend a “this is the one you need” method because everyone is different. I tend to adopt process goals for my far-reaching plans as this promotes the formation of (usually) beneficial habits and long-term positive changes. For example, “I intend to go for at least one walk every day for the coming year.” I tend to use outcome goals for specific time-critical steps which need to be achieved to help facilitate the process goals. For example, “I will redesign my entire business calendar and course schedule by the end of the first week in January to enable 1 hour of walking time to be available every day.”

Experiment with both types. When you find a method which works for you, stick to it and thrive.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. Keep an eye out for the rest of the series. Why not click on the “follow” button and subscribe to the blog to get a reminder?

Why not check out the other series posts?

Part 1 The Success Formula

Part 2 And Your Reason Is?

Part 4 What Exactly Are You Measuring?

 

 

M&S Fail & Tesco Win

 

Marks and Spenser drop the ball in spectacular fashion.

There is a clear point I wish to make which relates strongly to mindset and emotional intelligence but there needs to be a little context first.

This very morning, my good lady wife and I had the dubious pleasure of visiting a large local M&S store. Doing this only 3 days before Xmas might well be considered madness. We were expecting a reasonably pleasant experience however because, as my wife had pre-ordered and paid a deposit for all the required items back in early-October, it should have been a simple matter to collect, pay and return home. We had booked the earliest slot as well but, even then, a small amount of queuing was to be expected as the service appears to be much in demand.

Did all this happen as planned? Of course not. We were finally directed to the rear of the store and into a confusing queue snake system. We had our identity checked against the order which is a good thing then placed in another queue to collect our groceries. This is where it all ground to a halt. When we finally got to the grocery area, rather than find a complete box with our name, unique order number and groceries waiting for us, it turned out to be six or seven harassed staff valiantly trying their best to build our order from a pile of assorted groceries stacked in a chilled box behind them. The items did have some numerical ID codes but were not even stacked in numerical order. The staff had to disappear to the main stores to find missing items. It was a chaotic and broken system by 1000 hrs and the queue behind us had spilled out of the queue snake and onto the main shop floor. Riots may yet ensue. The staff were left to face the shoppers because managers were conspicuous by their absence and the one who was there refused to make eye contact with anyone. Whoever designed this system needs a reality check.

Contrast this with Tesco. We were anticipating a home delivery at 1100 hrs this morning. Given the build up of traffic we would not have been surprised to see it arrive much later than the midday upper limit. Not a problem on a day like this. Imagine how pleased we were when, as we pulled into the drive following out M&S debacle, the Tesco delivery pulled up on the drive at 1030 hrs and politely asked if we minded him arriving early.

The key point I want to make here is one of corporate and staff mindset.

Whilst we waited at M&S I was discussing the process and effects on the staff and customers with the friendly and helpful assistant. I asked her why they could not plan and implement a simple and effective customer experience system like the one Tesco and many others now provide.

This was the answer which shocked me, and it highlights why Tesco are winning and M&S are not:

“We can’t do a system like that – it wouldn’t work here – we’re a different kind of store.”

This is a completely limiting belief on the part of the assistant which is almost certainly echoed, supported and probably driven by the many layers of management above her.

Anyone and any organisation can do almost anything they want if they commit to it. M&S cannot change the weather, but they can certainly change and redesign a faulty chaotic system then implement it correctly. If this is indeed a systemic mindset throughout M&S, then they have a serious and chronic problem.

What they really mean here with the statement “we can’t do it” is they “don’t want to do it.” A corporate “can’t/won’t do” mindset in this instance leading to a chaotic and head in the sand operation with little regard for their customer experience or indeed that of their frontline staff. Profits are down? Hmmmmm?

Tesco, on the other hand, have a corporate “can do” attitude which appears wholly focused on improving customer experience and one which in turn generates more profits as well. Profits are up? Hmmmmm?

Tesco realise a good customer experience also results in word of mouth referrals and yet more advertising free growth. I tell everyone how good the delivery service is. This falls into the emotional intelligence quadrants of understanding others and managing relationships with others.

In this instance, M&S have failed to see that customer experience matters. We will chalk it up to experience and, no matter how tasty the food may be at M&S, we will not return next Xmas and we will not recommend anyone we know does it either. In my humble opinion, M&S management urgently need some EI awareness training and some process design skills.

Emotional intelligence and customer care often go hand in hand. Organisations can embrace this and so can we as individuals.

Rant over.

And Your Reason Is?

 

Why do you want to be successful? 

This article is the second part in my success formula series. Make sure you check out part one here if you have not already read it.

The first element in the formula is reason and I am going to encourage you to look at your reason for wanting success in the first place.

Well, why do you want to be successful?

It seems like an innocent enough question does it not? Almost a pointless question. I mean, really, who does not want success?

Everything in life takes energy. You cannot escape this fact. Whenever you do or think anything or engage in any interaction with the world around you, there is an exchange of energy involved.

You must take energy in to exchange for the bodily and mental essentials you need as a human and there is only so much to go around for the additional things you like to have in your lives.

Achieving success in any significant endeavour takes a lot of work and achieving the type of comprehensive success most people seek in all areas of their lives, takes a huge amount of energy applied over time. You can do it, but you will need to make sacrifices. You must focus your energy and use it primarily for the essential elements you need to achieve your successful outcome.

You need something to drive you toward your success. You need a fuel to power that drive. You cannot run a car for long without fuel, can you? You cannot survive for long as a human without food or water, can you?

Your reason for achieving success is your fuel. Your reason must be compelling enough to make you give up the nice to haves and expend your valuable energy on your success essentials. If your reason is not compelling enough your resolve will fizzle out and die. Your plan will fail.

The first step in planning for a successful outcome is to determine exactly why you are doing it in the first place.

There are two types of driver: Extrinsic and intrinsic.

External or extrinsic drivers, offering such rewards as money, fame or possessions, can be good drivers for some people but, as history has demonstrated time and again, even if they are achieved these things do not always provide the happiness or contentment which was sought. Many times, the external rewards do not prove healthy as drivers of success. Someone else always has more money, more fame or more possessions so there is no real end to it. Even if they do relatively well, compared to others, these externally driven types eventually burn out and give up. They often feel discontented and bitter. They sometimes ruin their health and emotional lives. Life is too short to waste.

Internal or intrinsic rewards tend to be far more powerful and effective drivers for success. An intrinsic driver might be as simple as feeling personally satisfied for doing a task well regardless of any thanks or monetary gain. In my experience, the most powerful intrinsic drivers are those which involve achieving success so other people benefit.

Perhaps an example might help clarify things further.

Consider which of the following two success drivers might make a middle aged, overweight and out of condition businessman start to eat a healthy diet, get fit again and then stay fit for as long as possible.

Driver 1: He wants to look good on the beach, impress others and fit into more stylish business clothing to help his career?

Driver 2: He wants to be able to play more sports and games with his children and stay healthy to help provide for them and help them as they grow toward their own middle age.

Which option would be most effective for him? Which option would drive you most effectively?

The cost of gaining extrinsic rewards is often high. If you are driven by such extrinsic rewards you might want to dig a bit deeper and see if you can find more intrinsic reasons for wanting success.

If you would like to dig deeper into what drives people, you might like to try the following books:

“Start with Why” by Simon Sinek.

“Drive” by Daniel H. Pink

I can recommend them both.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. Keep an eye out for the rest of the series. Why not click on the “follow” button and subscribe to the blog to get a reminder?

Why not check out the other series posts?

Part 1 The Success Formula

Part 3 What Are You Aiming At?

Part 4 What Exactly Are You Measuring?