how do you measure success

What Is Success?

Success is something that we are all trying to achieve in some form or another. It may be that we are trying to achieve success in business, or to have a meaningful relationship or simply that we want to be prosperous in life. But what exactly does it mean? How can we measure it and how can we achieve it?

defining success in business

In this article we will try to define what it means to be successful. Lastly we will look at how to measure our acheivements.

How do you define successful, as a concept?

Before we get started, it is important to define what it means to be successful. First of all lets remove any specific area of focus and think about it abstractly. What does the word actually mean?

What does the word mean?

Regardless of whether we are talking about business, relationships or life in general, being successful generally means being good at something. But as we all know, being good at something is a relative concept. For example, if you were a really good footballer at school then you might define yourself as successful at football. In the same respect, a professional footballer would also define themselves as very good at football but in relativity the skill set and the level of achievement from an onlookers perspective would be miles apart.

successful footballers

Lest look again at the footballer concept. If you were the best footballer in your school, would you judge your triumph compared to the professional footballer? Would you say that you were not that good at all compared to the professional? I think the answer is probably no. You would still judge yourself to be very successful because a) you would presumably have improved over time before you got to the point of being the best in your school and b) you would be the best in your immediate circle or out of anyone that you knew and associated with.

Measuring your level of success

If you went on to a professional football club you might then have to redefine your measure of success because you would have a new goal and new role models to aspire to.

So in some respects I would say that it is very much relative to where you have come from and where you are now. This could be applied to any type of achievement.

Based on this analysis I would use the following definition:

  1. Self improvement
  2. Comparison to past and present situation
  3. Comparison to your peers

If we apply these 3 principals for to the footballer scenario then the measure of success would be how much you have improved, how your current skills compare to your skills in the past and how they compare to your peers. If you are playing the best you have ever played then that would be deemed a success.

The road to success therefor, is constant self analysis and striving to improve your position based on that analysis.

self analysis

Lets talk about relativity

Taking the footballer as an example again, if you were to spend your entire life playing football as a hobby (never making it to a professional level) and you were constantly improving your skills then you could define this as a success. In fact this would be no less of an accomplishment than another footballer who became a professional athlete, providing that you had always worked on improving yourself as much as you could.

circumstance is also a factor and where you start out plays a very key role in your road to success. If you have started out in a third world country for example then it might be much harder to become a professional footballer. In that scenario a lower or smaller achievement could be considered a far greater achievement based on the starting circumstances.

How to Measure Improvement

Now that we have our definition, how can we measure it? Seeing as we have established that success is about improvement, a good measure would be to compare the situation at two points in time – if the situation is better at the second measurement then we could define that as a success. We could then go on to compare the improvement to our peers, or to industry standards in order to gauge how much of an improvement we had achieved.

Lets take football as an example. To begin with we could document the level of skill we have at football – how many different types of tricks or moves we could perform and how well we could perform them compared to our teammates. Then at a future date we could assess ourselves on those same metrics and if they had improved then we could deem that a success.

Measuring Business Performance

measuring success in business

If you are self employed or starting your own company you may ask yourself how to measure success in business. Well, we can use the same principals to measure success in business as we can in any other area of life.

Defining metrics

First of all you would need to define some metrics. These might relate to your business or your career. It’s best to use metrics that can be monitored easily. For example, if you run your own business, you might use the following metrics:

  1. Number of customers
  2. Revenue
  3. Profit
  4. Number of Leads

There are many other measures of improvement that you could use for your business. These might be different depending on the type of business that you are running. The key is to use metrics that you can assign a value to. So an example of a bad metric to use might be something like customer satisfaction. You might know yourself whether or not that was improving, and it might be a very important metric, but it would be hard to assign a value to and thus it is not a good metric to use when trying to gauge success.

Reassess the situation

Once you have assigned current values to these metrics, set yourself an assessment time-frame. This could be one month, three months or a year depending on how hard you are planning to work at improving your business.

When it comes to the end of the review period you can again provide values for each of the previously defined metrics. Then you can define the success of your business, within this period, based on the difference in those values. You could even assign expected values at the beginning, then you can make several assessments. Firstly you can assess whether or not you have improved in each of the areas to which you assigned values, and secondly you could assess whether or not you had met the expectation in each of those areas.

If you answer yes to either or both of those assessments then you could define your business as successful.

The Secret of Success

What is the secret of success? I would suggest the secret is self improvement. This is true no matter what type of success you are trying to measure but it is especially true when you are talking about success in life. The secret to success in life is to ensure you are always trying to improve yourself. Always set yourself goals and try to achieve them. Remember that we are all on our own journey in life and we all start from different locations. One persons small success could be a life long achievement for another.

That is why I suggest that you try not to measure your success against others. Rather you should always think to yourself – how can I be a better person? How can I improve myself and my situation? You can do this by constantly assessing yourself and always trying to learn from your mistakes. Never be resentful of the mistakes you have made but rather look at those mistakes, understand why you made them. Once you have done this, you can put a strategy in place to avoid making the same mistake in future.

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