How Do You Measure Success?
I measure the numbers in my business. More carefully than ever!
At the end of the week I check a range of data including: How many sales? How much income into bank? How many leads? How many hits to the website? How many quotes done or proposals made? How many calls? How many sales conversations where prospects were converted to clients? What is my return on investment (ROI) of money and time spent on a range of activities?
I want the numbers to be positive and I monitor them carefully. I look for reasons when they go up or down. I use appropriate means to create the numbers which test and measure any new project or marketing strategy in my professional practice.
Tracking the numbers is one of my criteria for measuring pass or fail for any venture or activity. The numbers do not lie.
However, I am careful not to make numbers the only measure for success in my business or my life.
Some measures of success are more helpful than others
If the main measure for your success is the numbers in your business, how do you feel when they go down? And no matter who you are, sometimes they do go down. Tough times happen. Sometimes it is a season that affects everyone; other times it is just you.
If I am struggling right now in a business sense does that make me a failure? If the only things I am measuring are business measures, the answer is probably yes. Or that is how it feels.
I have found I need broader measures that help me assess success across my whole life. For me, success is more than business. I want to ‘work to live, rather than live to work’.
What Is Success?
There are many ways to define success.
For some it about image – looking good. For some it is about ever increasing numbers. For others it is about a winning feeling, or about beating their competition. I know some business owners who measure success by how many people they employ. Others by how many clients they serve. Other people measure their success by the good they can do with the profits they make. And then I know others who are very successful by any standard who feel like failures because they have lost the respect of their children along the way. For some success is having a loving family.
The truth is success is different things to different people and there are many ways to measure it.
What is YOUR criteria for success?
A question I like to ask high achievers is, “what is YOUR criteria for success?’ Most do not have a quick clear response. Many have never thought it through. If they have it is often related to achieving short term goals for this year.
It is a worthwhile exercise to reflect on this question over a few hours or even weeks, until you do have a clear answer. There is no right or wrong answer except that you must be true to yourself. What will make you feel successful at the end of your life? This will lift your view of success above any one goal achievement or your net worth or your capacity to purchase nice things.
Bob Buford in his book, Half Time, speaks of the benefits of doing a life-audit at ‘half-time’ (in your 40s) and moving focus from success to significance in the second half of life.
This is why people like Bill and Melinda Gates have moved their focus from purely business success to seeking to save lives from malaria and other diseases around the planet through their foundation.
How to create ‘Criteria for Success’ across your whole life
You already have some criteria for success. You have an idea or a sense of what success looks alike or what it might feel like. You have people you admire because they are successful in your eyes. So how do you make this happen?
- My suggestion to you is that it is time to undertake the worthwhile exercise of working out what success for you will look like. I believe we all have the power to choose; to create a preferred vision of our own future. Something that inspires. Something bigger than just business goals. A vision that will stretch you. That will give your whole life a ‘raison d’etre’. A vision that even if only partially fulfilled will make the planet a better place for you being here. Write and rewrite what this looks like for you.
- Once you have some clarity about the big picture vision then look at the key areas of your life and allow your larger sense of vision to help you set some goals for each area. These areas would include your marriage, family, health & fitness, personal growth, wealth creation, areas of contribution such as community involvement, as well as your business activities.
- Then set plans for those goals and factor them into your schedule in ways that make you focus and take action. As you take consistent action you will quickly see what you need to change. In order to grow a bigger life you will need to be willing to become a bigger person. This is the power of vision to focus us, to stretch us, and change us and the world around us.
Finally, which voices do you listen to?
Once you establish YOUR ‘criteria for success’ then you need to create some effective and consistent ways to track your progress. For any assessment to be meaningful and useful it needs to be:
- Objective – it cannot be based on subjective criteria such as how you feel things are going. You need to set meaningful measures based on your criteria for success.
- Wise – assessment cannot be based on feedback from people who do not understand your vision or criteria for success (E.g. other people’s impressions or feedback). If your family or other people close to you, are critical of you, do they really understand what you are trying to do? If not, do not to give their views any weight.
- True – Once you get a clear sense of vision write it down and seek to stay true to what you know is your criteria for success in life.
In order to live your best life, start to think about the larger picture of your life. I strongly suggest you start a conversation with yourself about YOUR criteria for success. Take some time out soon and reflect deeply. Write things down. Make it your quest to become clear about your vision and then allow that vision to permeate every area of your life. The life you then live will be guaranteed to be one of success and increasing significance.