Success and Value, An Equation

Corporations, non-profits, businesses and start-ups share a success model based on achievements. Each organization has its unique thumbprint written into a mandate or mission statement. Most have these posted on their websites as hallmarks of thoughtful, good business practice. Attention is being paid to the ‘why’ a company exists and typically in the case of non-profits, the ‘who’ they are attempting to serve. The statements are based on Values.

Over time, and as growth occurs, these achievements are measured. Goals are set for employees, financial benchmarks increase, companies buoyed by success look for innovative ways to meet their potential. And this is where it gets interesting.

As a contract employee with many years of freelance consulting and producing,  I have been privy to a wide scope of high level board room conversations. As incredibly diverse as these projects have been, one constant is true – the leadership in these rooms sets the tone. (There are many fantastic articles and books about leadership that prove across cultures specific leadership styles remain consistent. No need to re-visit in this article. Brene Brown’s  Dare to Lead is quite literally, the manifesto.) Stay with me here…

It is the culture of success in the board room that defines the ultimate success of the company. Obvious, yes? What isn’t so clear is how the measurement of success can easily slip away from the early achievement goals based on Values. Being in the room or part of the conversations of so many different types of organizations has offered me a front row seat with a balcony perspective. Leading my own projects has provided the ‘in the trenches’ experience of keeping a team on the path to reaching  goals while holding onto the mission -which is the true heart of the work. It’s not easy. Especially when there are so many ‘constituents’ to please! Murky messaging occurs when the heart of the work is forgotten and success outcomes shift. Here is today’s big realization:

We value the measurements of our success. When really, for true success we should be measuring our values.

Boom.

Mic drop. (Hello, is thing on? Anyone still with me?)

In our pursuit of success – as companies and as individuals – have we put all our eggs in the ‘measurement basket’? When did measuring our values stop being important? Companies need to continue to keep the values at the forefront of decision making asking questions such as ‘is this new direction inline with our company values?’ That initial foundation of ‘value built success‘ unfortunately gives way to numbers driven, employee stressed, higher and higher achievement expectations that chase outcomes based on numbers metrics.

Let me put this another way: a new company initially looks for clients who mirror their values, we look for like-minded clients who share certain affinities. They are the low hanging fruit so to speak, of potential contracts. As the company succeeds and expansion continues, the measurement of success is increasingly about productivity, achievement and growth. The story that can be told by the accumulated data – the numbers –  takes center stage; percentages based on dollars and bank figures; graphs, charts and spreadsheets become the benchmark.  And this is the easiest way to recognize a shift in company culture. The story changes. The story is no longer about the ‘why’ and ‘who’.

Growth, achievement, output, all absolutely need to be the goals of running a successful corporation. Success is awesome and important. It just seems to me, that when we put more emphasis on the measurements – the data – we lose sight of greater potential. Give me a room full of people dedicated to the Values of the organization and the achievements will blow the limits off of any growth chart! Focus on the Measurements, and the value system is askew. That same room of awesome people will have to use that same extraordinary collective energy, to push numbers. Ugh. Trust me, focus on the Values and the numbers will follow.

I just need to say it one more time. About Success.

To achieve true success we need to continually Measure our Values. Otherwise, we end up Valuing the Measurements – which is not a long term strategy for success.  It’s people, people! Keep our eye on the Values and growth will follow. Along with happiness.  And a whole slew of other healthy outcomes.

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Oprah, Shawn Achor and Happiness in a Bowl of Soup

SuperSoulSunday’s conversation today explores  ‘happiness’ with Oprah and Shawn Achor discussing the secrets of happy people. Are you a glass half full or glass have empty personality? Shawn Achor says that is not the question to be asked… Instead, we should embrace a new more optimistic approach: look at life as a pitcher that we have the ability to fill in any way we want, and then choose to fill it with joy!

The show offers some tangible, attainable and practical means of finding your own happiness. I like Shawn Achor’s idea of sending one message a day to a friend, colleague, contact, praising them in some way. After 21 days, according to Achor, your social connections will feel more meaningful, deeper and resonant.  This sounds promising!

My idea is a more introspective approach. Simply ask yourself, what makes you happy? Then make a list. Your ‘happiness’ list should be filled with thoughts that are positive and uplifting – long term happiness isn’t attainable at the expense of someone else. So, what makes me happy? Here is my very short list, in no particular order!

1. ‘Simple’  makes me happy. Complex is good, complicated is not.

2. Relationships that hold me up and allow me, in turn, to do the same. Through some trials and tribulations (we have all had them!), I have come to fully realize that the quality of my life is increased greatly when I surround myself with people who want the best for me, and who accept the same positive uplifting friendship in return.

3. Doing my best. Yes this can be a difficult road sometimes, but the personal satisfaction I get from working hard at what is important to me – my relationships, my career – truly does make me happy. The resulting stronger connections enhance the quality of my life immeasurably. I believe I end up getting far more then I had given!

4. Soup (no surprise there!). Not only consuming it, but making it. Especially when I make it for my family and friends.

Sometimes life is far more difficult than a random email or even a bowl of soup made with heaps of love, can make better. That is for sure. But a moment of happiness in a dark day can be just the balm needed. A reminder that being happy is still possible and that our pitcher of joy can endlessly fill our glass. I believe my pitcher is really a big pot from which I can ladle endless bowls of soup.  The soup recipe for today’s Soup for SuperSoulSunday is a  delicious and easy soup to make – comfort food at its best!

Roasted Cauliflower & Parmesan Soup

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower (or 1 bag frozen although fresh is best)

Vegetable or chicken broth

1 onion, chopped

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Grated Parmesan Cheese (1 – 2 cups, depending on how much you LOVE parmesan)

1/4 cup of milk or cream

Salt & Pepper

How to Make It:

1. Break cauliflower into florets.

2. Put cauliflower onto baking sheet and drizzle olive oil on top.

3.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

4.  Roast in oven at 325 until tender. Approximately 15 – 20 minutes.

5. Pour enough olive oil into soup pot to cover bottom and add the onion.

6. Cook on medium until onion is translucent. Approximately 5 minutes.

7. Add roasted cauliflower and stir up.

8. Add enough broth to cover vegetables and simmer on medium until cauliflower is soft and easily breaks apart.

9. Add 1/4 cup of milk or cream and heat through.

10. Add more parmesan (as much as you would like!) and salt and pepper to taste.

11. Heat until the parmesan melts and then serve. If you like a creamier version, then you can blend the soup after it cools a bit.

ENJOY!

Jumping into Joy!

Jumping into Joy!