A New Set Of Metrics Defines The True Scorecard Of Success

We measure success by things like money, power, fame, good looks, possessions, toys, trophies, and degrees. We strive for likes, followers, a high Klout score, and a giant LinkedIn network. Adding some focus on a more enlightened set of measures can not only make the world a better place, it can even drive real business results.

Friday night I attended a surprise party honoring my close friend David’s 40th birthday. Naturally, a several-hundred-person bash was fun, but I got a lot more out of it than a Saturday morning hangover.

David is a successful entrepreneur and investor, but I realized he was far wealthier than his balance sheet. As dozens of friends and family fought back tears, they gave speeches that lavished love and appreciation on the man who touched their lives so deeply. It got me thinking about the current incomplete measures of success, and wondering what would happen if we added some new metrics.

In the U.S. we measure success by things like money, power, fame, good looks, possessions, toys, trophies, and degrees. In the digital age, we now strive for likes, followers, a high Klout score, and a giant LinkedIn network. At the same time, big-picture numbers like unemployment, divorce rates, environmental quality, educational results, trade deficits, and even overall happiness continue to plummet faster than a teen idol whose 15 minutes of fame have expired.

Today, someone can have a lot of cash and power, but be an overbearing jerk with no points deducted. Narcissistic celebrities are allowed to act like thumb-sucking idiots without a consequence in sight. A great-looking, successful, well-dressed guy can be a total jackass, yet his cup still runneth over with praise and admiration.

What would happen if we added some new metrics to our scorecard?

What if you measured and celebrated the number of times you bring joy to others each day? The number of people you positively impact or teach per week. The amount of sadness or fear you helped a loved-one overcome after receiving a devastating personal setback. The number of times you said no to life’s temptations and had character carry the day instead of impulse. The things you created. The compassion you extended. The responsible risks you took. The people you helped. The lives you changed. The impact you made.

Now I’m no tree-hugging, Pollyanna softie that thinks we should all just lock arms and the world’s problems will melt away like a snow cone on a late August afternoon. I’m a hard-charging, 80-hour-a-week business guy who eats nails for breakfast and celebrates toughness and winning just like so many others. However, I’d suggest that adding some focus on a more enlightened set of measures can not only make the world a better place, it can even drive real business results.

My friend David showed me that when you make a difference and build relationships, the success comes as a byproduct. In today’s complex and competitive world, being a cold-hearted Mr. Scrooge no longer gets you to the promised land. In order to win today, a new set of metrics is needed to measure not just near-term material gain, but long-term societal impact. The more you drive the later, the bigger the former will become.

Personally, I have a ton of work do to on my new scorecard. Do you?

For more ideas on creativity and innovation, please visit my blog at www.JoshLinkner.com

[Image: Flickr user Curtis Cronn]

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3 Comments

  • Greg O'Donnell

    For sure, it took me about 25 years to figure this out. I have started my blog as I want to focus more on promoting others that write books, hold seminars, teach others etc about how to be more successful in what ever they are wanting to do.

    There are so many people that are in low paying, boring, dead end jobs, inclusive of corporate folks that should be out trying to achieve more. The big challenge we all face is that we need to start focusing on small success wins not the major big league wins, these mountains are too high for most and it is working against them from simply looking at small wins initially, small steps, that get you the momentum.

    Great article though,

    Keep it up

    Gregory O'Donnell, Success Talk
    gregoryodonnell.tumblr.com

  • Kath Roberts

    A refreshing post, in a sea of sameness about leadership metrics. Great to hear a more enlightened perspective. I turned towards authentic success 3 years ago having worked the ridiculous hours, dealt with the corporate bollocks and got stuck in that rut that drains energy like nothing else & crucifies spirit. I had plenty of money and no quality time to do anything with it. So I 'm a true believer in balance and purposeful action/work these days. Its about focusing on the right things in life. I think its more than time for more soulful businesses out there who recognise we're more than just a body with a brain.

  • Jay Palter

    You're right on, Josh. I've found the key to happiness is the right balance of both: doing well and doing good. 

    As a work-at-home dad who is active in day-to-day care of my kids and family, I realize what makes me the happiest. We all need external validation and success in the business world is critical to us, as men, feeling good about ourselves. But I get equal joy from being the one who gets to be there for after-school activities with my kids. Being present in my kids' lives and volunteering in the community has huge benefits on the happiness index.

    Great article!