The other day, a friend of a friend responded to something on Facebook with a post that included the phrase, “too often, we measure success by results.”
I’ve thought about this for a while. I’ve even tried Googling similar concepts to see if I could understand what it means.
And I think it’s wrong, but I think I know what the correct explanation is.
The idea behind it seems to be that it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey — it’s about all the magic that can happen along the way. I get that idea — I really do — because at times, improv is all about that. You may enter a scene with a destination in mind, but the other people in the scene may take it to a place you never imagined. In improv, that’s okay — and a lot of times in life, that’s okay too, so I think the basic premise of enjoying the ride is an important one.
But success is about results. If your goal is to win the Super Bowl, and you don’t make it to the playoffs, you have not succeeded. If you plan to make a million dollars, and you don’t make a million dollars, you have not succeeded.
You probably played a few good games along the way and maybe even had some highlight-worthy moments; you probably had at least one or two points when that million dollars seemed like a possibility. You wouldn’t trade those moments away — but they are not success. Success is having a goal and attaining that goal. That’s it.
What I think the concept is that we have trouble grasping is that we are not very good at goal-setting.
We so often feel we have not succeeded because we have put our emphasis on goals that are not only unrealistic, but unnecessary.
When we learned that Ann was going to have to deliver Sage weeks early via C-section, we could have been disappointed that we didn’t achieve a “goal” of having Sage be born full-term through natural childbirth with as few drugs as possible… but that was never actually our goal, when we thought about it. Our goal was to have a healthy baby and a healthy mommy. We got that. We achieved success.
I’m not saying that it’s bad to have big goals. I have a goal to play with every active ComedySportz. I may never achieve success at that. But there are smaller goals. In the past year alone, I’ve hit some of them — such as playing with ComedySportz Buffalo and ComedySportz Los Angeles. Success!
I hate my job. My goal isn’t necessarily to get a different job (although I sure would like to). My goal is to no longer hate the job that I do, whether it’s this one or another one. Success on that may be a long way off. In the meantime, I have smaller goals. Handle situation x better the next time it comes up. Manage project y quickly. I can have success with things like that.
So, by all means, measure your success by results; however, consider and potentially redefine success. Don’t try to be perfect; try to be better than you were yesterday. And if you feel like you fail, try to be better by being more forgiving of yourself and more resilient, so you can say, “Then tomorrow, I’ll be better than today.”