How Do You Measure Success?

Have you thought about how you really measure success, both personally and for your business?

Last week I attended a retirement party and heard a great response to this question of how do you measure success? My good friend and client, Bill Larkin was retiring from L&S Construction as CEO. This is a company that he founded in 1974 with two employees. It currently has over a hundred employees and is a ESOP, thanks to Bill’s desire to share his success with the employees. Attending the party were employees, vendors, sub contractors, customers, friends and family. There were the usual funny stories about Bill and the company, but everyone who spoke had one consistent theme. It was about Bill as a person, not as the boss. They shared private stories of how he had personally helped them during tough times and how generous a person he has always been. They all felt as if they were part of his family and that his number one concern was their personal well-being. Many of those attending had worked for Bill for over twenty years, a rare situation these days. When it came time for Bill to speak he didn’t talk about the company’s growth in people or revenue. He didn’t talk about it’s position in the industry. What he talked about were the people. He didn’t have any notes or PowerPoint, but instead talked about the people that had worked for the company in the past and those still working for the company. He talked about them individually, sharing stories of his relationships with each of them and their families. Some were funny, some sad but all showed that he had a close relationship with each of them and cared about them. As he walked around the room and talked about most everyone, it became very obvious that to Bill the way he measured success was in terms of his relationships.

So as a coach or consultant or business owner, how do you measure success? Is it all about the numbers; about revenue, profits and market share? Is it about how many clients or customers you have? Are your goals every year set around achieving those numbers? When we are talking about sales, I always hear that making the sale is about creating a relationship. But is that relationship being created to just make a sale or do you really care about the other person? At your retirement party are they going to hand out financial reports showing how successful you were or like Bill’s retirement party are they going to talk about you as a person and the relationships you built over the years? Bill may be retiring from L&S but I would bet my last dollar that he is not retiring from creating new lasting relationships everywhere he goes and I want to be at the head of that line.

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