Discussing business performance metrics in terms of revenue, profit, EBITDA etc. is great for benchmarking, but these measures are far from all-encompassing when it comes to assessing personal performance.
The problem is that the sort of metrics we might use to evaluate our own performance, or the performance of others, rarely provide insight into the drives and motivations of the human animal, they can only attempt to capture output.
Instead, more managers and entrepreneurs are turning to non-traditional thinking when it comes to working with their staff and with themselves in order to benchmark and increase productivity.
At MYOB, we spend a lot of time considering the various definitions of ‘success’ as a qualitative insight into what makes people perform.
Success is hustling
As a prime example, we asked entrepreneur and videographer Casey Niestat this question not long after he’d sold his company, Beme, to CNN for $20 million.
For some, the answer to ‘What does success mean to you?’ is obvious (an enormous exit yielding myriad opportunities and a tonne of cold, hard cash is the ultimate definition of success!), but instead Niestat gave us a surprising response.
Rather than discuss success in terms of money, he harked back to a time when he was living in a trailer park and worked as a dish washer.
“I was the best f***ing dish washer that restaurant ever had, because it was the first time I understood that the more hustle I poured into that job, the more I got back,” said Niestat.
From that point on, Niestat faced ongoing hardships as he worked his way from dish washer to bike messenger, to artist’s assistant and eventually to making videos and publishing them online.
“The beauty of hustle and work is that it will never let you down. The guaranteed recipe of success is to dedicate your life to something,” said Niestat.
In that sense, Niestat’s view of success can be achieved in ten minutes, and doesn’t need to have a big dollar value attached to it. By the same token, it can also take a life time and provide massive fiduciary benefit.
Niestat’s is an iterative view of success, one that’s always pushing in the right direction.
Success is controlling your own destiny
As part of a 10-part podcast series presented by MYOB, we teased out a wide cross-section of definitions for success.
READ: Success: The Podcast
One of the stand-out episodes of this podcast features an interview with Penny Locaso, founder of disruptive global education company BKindred, who left her life as a highly paid executive behind to help others futureproof their happiness in work and in life.
If anything, Locaso’s story highlights how easy it is to allow others define our success for us, while she stands as testament to someone who decided when to say ‘when’.
“Three years ago, I turned my life around in the pursuit of happiness with the intention of helping others do the same,” said Locaso. “I think people have found it compelling because it’s a story of making impactful, meaningful changes to better our lives in one of the most uncertain climates in recent history.”
Through BKindred, Locaso has gone on to touch the lives of more than 52,000 people worldwide, through the delivery of 92 different programs.
And with a stated aim of providing direction, inspiration and empowerment, Locaso’s definition of success is strongly bonded to helping to shape the success of others’.
“I think that it’s far preferable to shift the new generation’s mindset before they become the leaders of tomorrow than have to repair the bad habits that continue to be created,” she said.
Often these articles present case examples in threes.
Instead, we’ll break with tradition by throwing the question at you and your business: What’s your definition of success?
Like Niestat, you may be dedicated to being always ‘on’ and constantly hustling, or perhaps you view you prefer helping others realise their own success, like Locaso.
But this is a highly personal concept that allows enough room for everyone to have their own personal definition, and that’s exactly why you should be putting the question to your team as well.