Measure It Right To Succeed

Measuring tapes metaphor for measure

 

How do you measure your success?

You have to have a way to measure your criteria for success and the measures must be meaningful and effective. failure to do this leads to the question, “How do you get where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re at?”

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?”

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.

Choose your measure carefully

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. Perhaps 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.

Take care to measure correctly

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 measure of success?

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. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

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 Success Formula series posts?

Success And A Success Formula For You

Reason Provides Your Driving Force

What Goal Are You Aiming At?

Strategy And Why You Need One

Knowledge Is Essential

Action Required Now

Work Smart Effectively

Feedback Is The Fuel Of Champions

What goal are you aiming at?

man aiming a gun used as a metaphor for aiming at a goal

 

You need a goal to aim for. If you have no clue where you are going it doesn’t 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.

Why is goal setting so popular?

Because it works, that’s why. 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. Other people fail once or twice then give up entirely. Many 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 types of goals

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

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.

Process goals

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.

Which goal is best?

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. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

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 Success Formula series posts?

Success And A Success Formula For You

Reason Provides Your Driving Force

Measure It Right To Succeed

Strategy And Why You Need One

Knowledge Is Essential

Action Required Now

Work Smart Effectively

Feedback Is The Fuel Of Champions

Reason Provides Your Driving Force

reason provides your driving force

 

Why do you want to be successful?

What is it you are trying to achieve and why are you trying to achieve it? Without a powerful reason why, you will struggle to achieve anything of real value or lasting impact.

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?

Everything costs

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. 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. Focus your energy because it is limited and you must use it primarily for the essential elements you need to achieve your successful outcome.

You need reason fuel

Something must drive you toward your success but that means effort and effort costs energy. You need a fuel to give you energy and power that drive. A car for long without fuel, can it? Because you need sustenance, you cannot survive for long as a human without food or water, can you? Reason fuel is needed.

Your reason for achieving success is your fuel. Your reason must be compelling enough to power your ability to give up the nice to haves and, instead, 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.

Two types of driving force

There are two types of driver: Extrinsic and intrinsic.

External

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 because the grass is always greener. 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 which means they sometimes ruin their health and emotional lives. Life is too short to waste.

Internal

Internal or intrinsic rewards tend to be far more powerful and effective drivers for success because they are the real deal. 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?

Go inside for the best fuel

The cost of gaining some extrinsic rewards is high. If you’re driven by such extrinsic rewards you must dig deeper.  Find those all important intrinsic reasons for wanting your success because you’ll give yourself the best chance of finding it.

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. If you did then please like it and share it. Every little bit helps in internet land.

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 Success Formula series posts?

Success And A Success Formula For You

What Goal Are You Aiming At?

Measure It Right To Succeed

Strategy And Why You Need One

Knowledge Is Essential

Action Required Now

Work Smart Effectively

Feedback Is The Fuel Of Champions