Begin with the end in mind

Steven Covey said it, many moon’s ago – “Begin with the end in mind.”  I’ve touted this over the years, I utilize this advice as a coach to help me ensure that client sessions are focused and relevant.  I remember this to ensure I measure success.  I often remind folks of the immortal words of the Cheshire cat in Alice and Wonderland’s, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”  Sage words for sure!

Back when I worked in internal audit, I wrote finding after finding pertaining to a lack of clear, tangible targets and organizational metrics.  It was such a common issue, at one point I just started copying and pasting the recommendation and changing the organization name.  Work smarter not harder I’ve always said!

All this to say, it’s important to be focused on an outcome, a direction, a notable and tangible measure of success and to think about how to measure success on an ongoing basis.  Whether that pertains to your career, your leadership, your organization, your business, or an important goal that you have that doesn’t fit into any of these neat little categories.

But it’s not enough unfortunately.  Back when I was teaching coach training, I used to tell the story of a baseball player that was intently focused on hitting the ball as hard as they could, and when the moment came, the bat connected with the ball and off it went, high into the sky.  It flew and flew and flew, high up into the cloudless sky while everyone in the stands watched on.

How do you measure success?

And then one of the outfielders caught the ball in their glove.  The batter was out.

Here’s the question I would ask aspiring coaches – Was the batter successful or not?  Many said no, the batter was clearly out.  They would score no home run that day.  But some said yes.  And as the conversation would evolve, it inevitably came down to this trite little piece of advice that I’ve tried to disregard so many times over the years – it’s the journey that really matters, not the destination.

But how can that be?  There was no score to be had, no victorious run.  Well, it all hinges on how we measure success.  The batter was all in.  The batter had played with their heart.  The batter had performed the best they could at that particular moment in time.  At some point when I started this blog, I used to think about the number of people who read it, how many conversions this was creating for the calls of action on my website, how I could convert this activity into a tangible metric to measure.  I will tell you it sucked the joy out of the enterprise faster than you can down the last dregs of your drink when the bartender yells, “Last call for happy hour!”  Not that I’ve ever done that…

The other day, I was inspired more than usual, and I came up with the below questions. I entitled it, “Shelley’s Amazing KPIs:”

  • On a scale of 1-10, how much did I enjoy my work-related activities this week?  What would make it even higher?

  • Did I try something new?  Let’s celebrate it!

  • Did I fail at something?  Awesome!  What did I learn?

  • How I helped my clients this week, notable comments, insights they have had…

I now aim to spend 15-20 minutes at the end of each week thinking about the above questions, sometimes outside, as I watch my two cats Bijoux and Beaux hunt rabbits in the Austin greenbelt behind my house.  Sometimes I even pour myself a cold drink while I think, sometimes my mind does wander, but I make the effort to establish this new habit.  It’s my own personal weekly KPI review, without the annoying report and all the posturing that typically goes on at these things.  And I will tell you, the taste of success is so much sweeter when I ask myself these questions, rather than how many people viewed my website in any one week.

So, one a scale of 1-10, how much did you enjoy your work related activities this week?  Did you try something new?  Did you fail – awesome!  What did you learn?

Shelley Pernot is a leadership and career coach who is passionate about helping her clients discover their strengths and talents and find a career that utilizes them.  Reach out to me here for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching process and how it may benefit you!