Life Isn’t About Being Measured

Woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I wanted to since it’s Sunday morning and a good day for sleeping in.  However, my mind was racing and I could stop the mental chatter.  I’ m hoping channeling some of the racing thoughts into writing will help settle me down.

I have been replaying some comments made by a friend about success.  He was referring to who was ‘most’ successful amongst our colleagues.  The two people he name were for sure the guys who sold the most work and made the most money.  In many ways that may seem like the obvious measure of success.  Those seem like common success measures.  I think about clients who put together performance measures and often sales and revenue are fairly high on the list if not the list.

I get that for a company to stay in business sales and revenue are important but I don’t think they are a very useful measure of success.  We talk about vision meaning something noble or a reason to rally and stay together through highs and lows.  I do think that selling for someone who is passionate about connecting to people and understanding their needs and wants can be noble.  I can also believe that making significant revenue can pull people together.  Still I am not sure sales and revenue measure success.

I guess I believe success is much more personal.  I have gotten to know people who by the above standard of success should see themselves as very successful but don’t.  We’ve all heard the statement – “money can’t buy success” and I imagine some of us have wished we could test that statement ourselves.  Having had times of pretty good revenue and times of none, I do get it’s not about the cash flow.  Sure having some does help my ego but money isn’t sustaining or for that matter meaningful. Also selling has only been noble for me when I truly believed in the product and of course then never really felt like I was selling at all.

You may be wondering why is this keeping me up?  I think because there have been too many times in my life when success was measured generally and I watched or worse found myself trying to measure up only to discover later I had lost my ‘real’ direction.

Take tennis – I was very good.  For a long time I never lost and soon I thought winning was the measure of success.  However, winning soon became something that kept me in a very tight box.  I wasn’t willing to try new shots or a different serve.  I became fearful of losing and soon tennis was not the game I loved.

Take cancer – I am considered to have been successful at cancer.  Sure I am alive so that is a definite success.  But am I more successful then someone who died? No  Cancer more then anything else taught me that it’s not about how anyone including me measures a life tomorrow.    It’s only about how I choice to live today.

We are too easily convinced that there is some way to measure if we are doing well or succeeding in life.  May be it is sells and revenue, may be it’s how long we live, may be it’s if we’re married or how well our children do, may be it’s the number of times we win or the kind things we do.

Then again may be we are not here to meet performance measures.

2 thoughts on “Life Isn’t About Being Measured”

  1. An omelette and Susan’s blog.
    Hi Susan.

    I have lost touch with your blog over the last 10 days with critical deadlines for my launch of professional development online elearnings for Interior Designers, Architects and Manufacturers across Canada and the US.

    This morning, I thought I would breath in deeply – take a break, have an omelette and read all of the SusanBClarke.com posts that I have missed. What a treat!

    I have now read from the ‘why am I crying right’ through to ‘life isn’t about being measured’. This was meant to happen for me – I feel very connected with your transition and love it that you are sharing your process with all of us online. The significant ‘let down’ of the drive, ‘the purpose of life’ and now ‘the idea of measurement’ all fall in alignment in their own fragmented and purposeful way. Funny how that goes.

    I really think this IS your purpose; to challenge the norms, the small boxes that people around you squeeze themselves into, to question our ‘stories’, to confront antsy discomfort in the moment. That’s certainly – why I love you!

    I learned this morning that my time and $ investment has resulted in a hand-full of online purchases. Reading your blog I question if I have measured my success by that handful.

    I am happy to acknowledge quit the opposite – I am measuring my success today by my willingness to tenaciously reach my goal of creating elearning packages (whew, quite a job!). I am measuring my success by the number of old friends and work colleagues that I so easily plugged-into during last weeks tradeshow – after not seeing many of them for far too long. I am measuring my success by the fact that I have once again found something new to delight in birthing – I am proud of what I have created in a very short time. I am measuring my success in my willingness to try something new, to have the courage to put it into the airwaves and to sit in the stillness of its possibility.

    What a yummy, connecting and successful morning omelette – this has been. Keep up the blogging – we are reading, pondering, learning and loving!

    Renée Safrata
    renee@reneevations.com