During my first marriage, I thought the goal was to stay married. In jobs, I thought the goal was to get promoted to the next big title/level/responsibility. When I used to seriously run, I thought it was all about completing a marathon.
This lens on life caused a vise-like grip onto certain outcomes. The wrong outcomes. By defining success as “staying married”, I would find myself giving up me to be loved by him. By saying work was about the next rung on the career ladder, I never questioned if I was suited for the role, and it for me. And by defining running to be about marathons (and, then, faster marathons), I set the bar so joy came from the milestones, rather than the inherent pleasure of leaves underfoot while alongside a creek.
In business, the certain outcomes are undoubtedly this quarter’s results. Companies and their leaders focus on this almost to the exclusion of whether they are building a company that can grow. They rob investments from future product categories or potential new markets to deliver today’s number. If you ask them, they’ll say they are getting pressure from their institutional investors to deliver (and that most institutional investors only hold onto stocks for less than 2 years, etc, yada, yada). We could comment that these CEOs/Boards needs to take back their strings because they are being led, not leading. But when asked, they will only tell you, they are doing what they are rewarded for.
What we define as the scoreboard, and reward, we do. That’s a truth. But are we conscious of the scoreboard ruling our decisions, and our choices? Or, could it be that we are operating with a “that’s how things are done” default setting?
I honor how challenging it is to choose the lens. I used to think an effective scorecard was ALL about the outcomes and if anyone said otherwise, I thought they were a wuss who wanted softer/easier/lighter goals. But after a divorce, and getting fired, many physical injuries because I pushed too hard, and most recently killing my own company, I think I’m ready to give up on that type of scoreboard. Life’s experiences have taught me it is not a sufficient measure of the quality of life. In my work with me note, you can see me grappling in front of you, as I shape the new one.
Results matter. Sure. However, quantitative results alone are almost always an incomplete picture. To say quantifiable outcomes is the complete scoreboard is to measure only that which we can see. It is mechanistic. And routine. It works for the simple measures that are binary but how many of us are living that life or running that business? Quantitative measures for our scoreboards miss the measures of things unseen. For individuals, the unseen part of us includes whether we are growing, and thriving in relationships, and doing our best to bring forth our gifts into the world. For business, the unseen measures include whether we are building growing, and thriving enterprise that can and will bear more fruit, over time. The success equation for business that I’ve written about is more than quantifiable metrics. There is some discussion going on in economic circles that we need to pick quality over quantity as our “new American dream”.
The qualitative scoreboards we define for ourselves can reflect more of what we want. I am no longer committed to being married. And don’t worry, my 2nd (and last) husband knows this. He knows that I am committed to having a healthy relationship. If that means we can grow together over time, cool. We believe that for any relationship to thrive and for intimacy to emerge, each person must be dedicated to growth; otherwise, we each will hit a wall of deep dissatisfaction. Because I am committed to being fully alive in this relationship, it means I say the thing that needs to be said, or ask the hard question I don’t want to know the answer to, or deal with things directly. I don’t hide me, and he’s never surprised by things cause we talk about them as pennies and nickels and don’t hoard issues up until they become half-dollar size problems. Rather than the binary “stay married” quantitatively measured score, we choose the more subjective and qualitative “healthy relationship” as the score, that we then evaluate, and measure, and tune, and reward and celebrate. Sure, it’s more hard to measure, but more true to the point.
Scoreboards. What is it you measure now? What do you think needs to be there, instead?