Traditionally business has defined success by ones ability to hit a metric target. That target is constantly moving and changing so the fleeting moment of happiness you feel when you achieve it is short lived because the goals quickly change. Finding better ways to define success at work will lead to long term happiness and growth.
3 Ways to Gauge Success at Work
I am, by nature, an extremely competitive person. Growing up I always struggled to satiate that competitive nature because I found that in most instances there was always a pat on the back regardless of how you did, that, and I was just not very good at basically anything. As an adult however there are no shortages of numbers to help a competitive person like myself define success. I can exceed my budgeted targets, sell more than the next guy, have a lower turnover rate, and the list goes on. This is how I have been taught to define success at work, by achieving these numbers. The only problem is that as soon as I celebrate that success, the bar moves, and I have to go for it all over again. This system of achievement and stretch goals produces great results in most environments, but leaves many employees and leaders feeling hollow without ever enjoying the true feeling of success.
Without a true feeling of success many people have a hard time finding joy and happiness in their job. This empty feeling will lead employees and leaders to look for other opportunities that they believe will fill that void left by the constantly stretching bar. It is virtually impossible to build a strong culture without having an engaged team, and unless your team can find success and happiness in more than just the numbers, they will never be truly engaged. Below are three ways for you to gauge whether or not you are truly successful at work.
- Passion – I think everyone can identify times when you “have to” do something and when you “want to” do something. I am a runner and when I tell people that I am excited to go run 50 miles they think I am crazy and then inundate me with stories of how they hate even doing their 2 mile runs, because they “have to” so that they can stay in shape. Everyone has met that person at work that seems to just have that fire for what they do. In most cases that person seems happy all the time, enjoys the level of success that they are looking for, and fellow co-workers gravitate towards that person. That happens because that individual has passion for what they do. In many cases people define success by goals that they “have to” hit, versus goals that they “want to” hit. If you can go to work every day with a desire to be there, and a passion for what you do, no matter the job, you will find true success. If you are struggling to find your passion try reading the The Seed, by Jon Gordon.
- Service to Others – I have had a career path that has taken me from a dishwasher at a Mexican Restaurant in my hometown in Ohio, to a General Manager of a Marriott Vacation Club resort on the beach in Florida. I have been blessed to be able to have led thousands of team members, and gained valuable experiences to grow as a leader while doing what I love. I never felt truly successful however, until I realized in my current role that my passion is to have the responsibility to grow and develop those around me. Many leaders are afraid to share their knowledge with their direct reports and peers for fear that they will miss an opportunity, or not receive credit that may be due them. The reality is that one of the greatest successes that you can have as a leader is to train and develop someone to grow with you or past you. There will always be someone smarter, more savvy, or more articulate than you are. You will be the best however if you learn to teach others to be successful. Whether you choose to develop someone at work or donate your time to charity, your service to others will develop a sense of community that will build an environment that breeds success.
- Culture – As a leader or member of a team, one of your primary missions is to develop an environment that fosters success. In many instances people call this a positive culture. Living by the beach I have always loved the phrase, culture is great when the tide is high. I have worked in both metrically successful and unsuccessful environments, but the ones I have been most proud of are the ones that had a culture that weathered storms. Its easy to say that your organization has a strong culture when things are going well, but it is how that culture responds to adversity that defines success. As a leader, start with finding a passion that your team can rally around, and build from there. The passion shouldn’t be a metric because metrics shift and are too specific, so your cultures definition of success will be in jeopardy. For example, if you chose a culture based on growth, then it allows your team to find literally thousands of definitions for success. Some may find growth in training classes, or cross training, or advancement, but your culture will push people towards their definition of success in good times and bad. Building, maintaining, and growing this environment should be your definition of success.
Finding growth, passion, and happiness in what you do at work will lead to a lasting feeling of success. Simply using metric results to gauge success will leave you with only small fleeting measures of happiness or success. Finding results through working with passion, serving others, and fostering a strong culture will lead to lasting success at work and in life.
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JLH Leadership Solutions