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How Do You Measure Your Success?

Posted on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 02:08PM by Registered CommenterLon Langston | Comments Off

Success is a loaded word. The general connotation ebbs and flows in and out of favor. To many people, “success” only means financial attainment. For the purposes of reading this, think in terms of overall success. Think of success in its best connotation.

So, with that said, what metric do you use to measure your success? Accomplishments? Impact on others? Spirituality? Autonomy? And be honest: Money? Power?

From Daniel Pink and others, I learned that humans need four things to be satisfied: Autonomy, Complexity, Effort = Reward, and Mastery.

We want Autonomy, because we are imbued with a sense of how we should use our time. We want complexity, because complexity challenges us. We want Effort = Reward, because we have an innate sense of fairness, a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. We want Mastery, or rather the opportunity for Mastery, because every human comes preloaded with the desire to be the best at something.

Unfortunately, over my 26 years, working with thousands of people, I came to disagree with Pink and the others. I observed that only a few people really want Autonomy, Complexity, Effort = Reward, and Mastery.

In fact, in most workplaces there are folks who don’t really accomplish much, at all. They show up, put in their time, perform menial tasks, with minimum effort and go home. This is unfortunate, not only for the employer, but for the worker himself, not to mention his co-workers. These workers measure their performance with time. Did I show up on time? Did I get the proper number of minutes for breaks and lunch? Did I work only the required number of hours? Did I work only the required number of years?

But time is a false measure of success.  

Do we all get caught up in false measures of success, in life? Do we live lives that are the equivalent of busy work? It’s easy to do. I hope I’m not. I hope you’re not.

Autonomy, Complexity, Effort = Reward, and Mastery are legitimate measures of success, but we do not automatically seek them. We have to be intentional.

Taking the time to identify values, cast a personal vision, then holding ourselves accountable for matching our behaviors with our values and vision, insures that we will pursue the best measures of success. The best measures of a great life.