Imagine you need to construct a desk for your new office. What would you do? First, you may determine how to allocate space for the desk to set parameters for the proceeding steps. Next, one would likely create blueprints for how the desk will look when construction is complete. Finally, once the materials have been obtained, you would construct the desk. Simple! Now, how would you determine the appropriate size of the desk? Well, given that you have already outlined your parameters and illustrated your expectations for the desk, you would simply make precise measurements. You would measure the length of the desk legs, the width the desk, and the height of the desk. Again, simple! Early mathematicians and innovative thinkers produced tools that made tasks, such as taking measurements, quick and easy. Innovations like the ruler and the metric system allow us to measure almost anything with ease and precision
Now imagine that you need to measure your success? What would you do? This task, while certainly achievable, cannot be approached with only a ruler in hand. The problem is that measuring success in not universal. How would a business measure success? Maybe by increased profit margins and customer satisfaction. How would a mother measure her success in raising her children? Potentially by the ability of her children to reach their dreams? Since measuring success is qualitative, defining those metrics can be challenging. However, if you approach measurement of success in the same manner you approached construction of your new desk, it may not be as intimidating! Let us go back to the desk scenario.
First, set parameters! What are your goals? Are these goals relevant? Are these goals realistic? By setting parameters to define your success, you provide clear expectations for yourself, as well as provide opportunities to generate small wins as you accomplish your goals.
Next, illustrate your success! How do you envision your success? Where will you be in life when you meet this success? Illustrating your success is crucial! Humans are inherently visual creatures. We need to design the vision of our success. Create a mental image, draw a picture, create a collage, or describe in vivid detail how your success will look.
Finally, obtain the materials you need to create the vision of your success! What do you need to achieve this success? What changes do you need to make in your life? What people need to be in your circle of influence to allow this success to come to fruition? Without defining your goals, envisioning your future, and surrounding yourself with support and resources, you will fail to measure success.
As the end of the semester approaches, Team Zatana wanted to take an opportunity to interview their mentor and retiring LDP president, Breanna Whitley, to reflect on how we measure success in the LDP.
What is the most important factor when measuring success?
“Whether it is an individual, organization, or business, success must be measured according to the specific parameters and goals of the person/organization defining success. The perception of success is not ubiquitous. In my experience, especially in the LDP, we often measure success by the lessons we learn. Whether it is a failed project or a special occasion, we seek opportunities to learn so we can make improvements for the future.”
How has measuring success helped you with planning in the LDP?
“You cannot measure success without first defining your parameters and goals. Thinking ahead, outlining objectives, and setting goals has allowed me to make the most out of every plan. In contrast, there have been times in which I neglected to set goals and parameters which resulted in failure. The biggest take away I can share is that setting goals and outlining parameters is much easier when you involve others. As a leader, it is not our task to do all the work, but to see that the work gets done.”
What was your most inspiring moment as president?
“During Team Week, we had an amazing experience rock climbing at Giant City. As each member took on the challenge of climbing the rock face, the rest of the team helped by encouraging them. In this moment, I realized that climbing the rock face was the perfect metaphor for how I hoped our team would approach the semester – no matter what challenges we may face as a team or as individuals, we would always encourage and support one another.”
How has that moment helped you measure success?
“This moment honestly defined my expectations for the rest of the semester. It enabled me to make a conscious decision that in every LDP project and experience, we would always support each other. Because I defined my expectations, I had a metric to help me measure success!”
How would you measure your success as president?
“One of the greatest lessons I have learned in the LDP is that great leaders create more leaders. My success in the LDP is intimately intertwined with the success of our members. I feel accomplished when our team reflects on their leadership lessons, accomplish their personal goals, or seek opportunities to get out of their comfort zones. I can confidently say that the team has completely exceeded my expectations of success!”