Last week, my client was musing about his attempts at physical fitness and he uncovered a metaphor that I found helpful for both of us as we continued to explore questions about making changes in his business. We’ll call the client “Joe Cool” since that is not his real name but it sounds fun (story used with permission).
Over a period of more than three months, after steadily working out, sticking to a regular diet, Joe Cool got back on the scales. To his deep dissatisfaction, the scales indicated that he hadn’t lost a single pound. “So I decided to quit,” he said. “But if I would have looked in the mirror instead, I would have realized that I had gained muscle mass and was looking better, more fit.”
Interesting. Joe Cool identified two different metrics, broadly speaking, used for measuring the same thing (his physical being and well-being). But different metrics measuring the same thing elicited different reactions!
Here’s the challenge. Is your business not making more net profit, but you’re helping more people (you went into business to help people, right?) Is your relationship with a spouse, partner, parent or child seeming unimproved, but you know that you’re doing the right thing by them more often? There’s always more than one way to measure success. No matter what your challenge is, and how you’re trying to grow, you have to make sure to pick the right metric, or you may end up quitting for the wrong reasons. Remember what your values are! If living the way you’re living isn’t giving you the results you want today, but it IS in keeping with your core values, then keep going anyway! (Sure, there’s a balance issue here, and we’ll get to that in a minute.)
Can you do this on your own? Sometimes. Michael Jackson famously sang “I’m looking at the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then get a nose job.” Or something like that. Nothing wrong with nose jobs. But anyway, I’m not digressing here: there is a lesson from Jackson’s life. Jackson was also famous for surrounding himself with sycophants. His feedback loop got warped. Outside perspective is immensely helpful in the process. An outside perspective can help you make decisions better whether you’re looking in the mirror, at the scales, or becoming conflicted by looking at both.
In your situation, what feedback or metrics are analogous to Joe Cool’s mirror, helpful and motivating. Which metrics are the scales — the one you need to ignore, and keep forging ahead? Are you looking at both, and becoming conflicted in the process? Remember how I noted there’s a balance issue? Sometimes one metric says to get out now, and the other metric says you’ll be over the hump in a few days. Dealing with that takes balance. So get that outside perspective, too, someone who can help you decide which is which, and then keep your focus on the one you value most. For this kind of perspective get someone who won’t tell you which metric they think is important! Leaders take responsibility for their own lives, so be prepared to have to make tough calls.
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