If You Take Money Out of the Equation, How Do You Measure Success?

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I’ve often heard this statement: that person has a really good job. Or this one: that person has a great job.

Those statements are code for meaning that person either makes a really good salary or a really great salary. Whenever I hear that I always think to myself that there has to be more to a really good job or a really great job than just making money. There has to be more to being a great organization than just how big the organization is financially.

Money is important. It’s important for individuals and it’s important for businesses. However, it can become so important that it can overshadow everything else in terms of defining success. We have to be able to peel back the layers of important outcomes in order to understand factors other than money.

Questions for Measuring Success with Money Not in the Equation

Here are three questions I want you to reflect on.

First, if you take your financial compensation out of the equation, how do you define success for yourself at work?

What would you use to determine your success if you don’t know what you’re being paid?

You might consider the quality of your work, the impact you had on other team members and on your customers and suppliers, and what you learned that day to improve the future of your organization. You might consider your professional relationships, and think about what you do to enhance a relationship or start up a new one. What would you use to evaluate your success without including money?

Second, if you take your organization’s revenues and profits out of the equation, how do you define success for your organization?

If you don’t know whether or not revenues and profits are going up or down, what would you use as indicators of success as an organization? Peel back the layers.

You might evaluate whether the products and services that are being sold are getting better or worse. You might measure success based on the results that your customers achieve when they use your products or services. You might measure whether your organization did what it said it would do for employees, customers, and suppliers. What would you look at?

Third, if you take the things you can buy out of the equation, how do you define success in your personal and community life?

Let’s extend these questions beyond your job and your employer, and look at success at home or in your community.

What would have to happen today for you to consider this to be a successful day?

For me, it includes showing my family members and telling my family members that I love them. It includes spending some time in nature and some time in exercising. It includes learning something either through reading or watching a film. For you, how will you determine if a day was successful or not if you take out what you can buy?

You can put money back in later on as an indicator of success, but for now I would like you to answer those three questions. Success has many layers of evaluation. We need to dig deep to get past just using money as our sole indicator of success.

In Defense of Business People

In Defense of Business People

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Recently I heard a speaker talking about the rights of homeless people. I was so impressed by his message and his example.

It was a powerful speech including many good points. He said it was wrong to criticize homeless people in a degrading way, and that it was wrong to make generalizations and assumptions about why people are homeless. He had been homeless himself at 15 years old, and he left home to get away from an abusive father. He said it was important that if we have clothes we no longer wear to give them to people less fortunate than ourselves. He said he had gotten a good job in construction, but decided to leave the construction world to go to work for a not-for-profit organization where he could focus on building a community of homeless people that could help them improve their lives. He fought for homeless people to have the option to sleep in their own sleeping bag and to be able to have a blanket with them even in a public park. Apparently laws had been enacted saying that it was illegal to sleep under a blanket in a public park in that particular area. All in all, it was a very meaningful speech.

However, during his speech about five times he said that he felt business people were in a rat race, they were obsessed with making money, and they always looked to step on people on their road to making money. He said that a business career was crap because it was only focused on making money.

During the Q&A session, I started asking questions and making comments.

I asked if he thought that most people in business who were making a lot of money felt they were in a rat race, were obsessed with money, and didn’t care about other people. He said you can’t have two masters. Either you love money or you love people.

I said, “I’ve been in business for 20 years. I’ve met hundreds and maybe thousands of business people. The vast, vast majority of the people I’ve met are not like what you describe. The vast majority are trying their best to help people. They’re trying to help their communities, their families, their employees, their customers, and their suppliers.”

Then I said, “You said it’s wrong to talk badly about homeless people. That everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. If that’s the case, why isn’t it equally as wrong to talk badly about business people who make a lot of money? Aren’t they human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect as well.”

We Don’t Need to Denigrate One Group While Trying to Compliment Another Group

When I was in high school I received really good grades. I wasn’t a very good athlete. So I would say to myself, “Well, that kid might be a great athlete, but he’s a lousy student.” I didn’t know the other kid’s grades. I just assumed he must be a lousy student in order to try to feel better about myself. In college, the situation was reversed. I received lousy grades. So I would say to myself, “Well, that kid might have great grades, but he has a lousy personality.” I didn’t know the kid’s personality. I just assumed it was lousy.

I was trying to make myself feel better by putting down another person. It was incredibly immature on my part. It didn’t help my self-esteem. It hurt my self-esteem.

Oftentimes in our society today adults are obsessed with complimenting one group while denigrating other people. A person will praise a conservative, and then feel it’s necessary to denigrate a liberal. Or the person will praise a liberal while slamming a conservative. People will praise The Greatest Generation, and then feel they have to humiliate Millennials in the same sentence. Or people will make fun of older people while trying to compliment a younger group. Even journalists today who are supposed to craft an unbiased story have shifted to bashing one group while telling a story about another group.

Why? Why do we keep doing this over and over and over even as we move into adulthood? We need to mature as adults if we are going to be the type of leaders who can make a significant impact in society. Otherwise as adults we sound like we never grew up.

We need you as a leader to be able to say positive things about one group without feeling it’s necessary to tear down another group. Otherwise, we just keep going around and around. We’re not making progress. Doing noble things can become undone by harshly criticizing someone else for being different than you. The right action doesn’t make the wrong action okay.