Measure of Success

Measure of successFew years back, we were living in a rented house and trying to buy a flat of our own. Problem was we couldn’t afford it.

Of course home loans were available, and I was eligible for one. But I was working on a very small company then and no bank wanted to take that risk with me.

As a result, we were not able to buy our dream home, even after selecting it, liking it and virtually living in it. I was very frustrated by all this.

At that time, I noticed my wife getting a new habit. She started measuring everything in the measure of ‘houses’.

Let me explain with an example. Our dream house’s cost was Rs 25,00,000. Someone tells my wife, “that movie star gets a salary of one crore rupees!”

Her immediate reaction would be, “wow, she can buy four houses with that amount.”

Next day, newspaper headlines will declare, “5 Crore Scam by minister.”

She would say, “I wonder if that minister bought 20 houses with that money.”

I used to tell her, “not all houses are priced at Rs 25,00,000. Some houses may be worth many crores.”

“That’s not a problem” she would say, “This may be inaccurate, but that’s the unit of measure for me.”

Later we got the required loan and bought our dream home. But this habit of seeing any big amount as ‘number of houses one can buy’ is still there!

Today I read an interesting news item related to this. In the country of Botswana, they use a currency called Pula.

In their local language “pula” means rain. As they don’t get much rain throughout the year, they decided to name their currency as Pula. After all, more pulas one has, happier they will be!

In Tamil, word “maadu” has two meanings: wealth and cattle. Reason? Among ancient Tamilians, cattle was the wealth. The person with the biggest cattle was considered the wealthiest.

Similarly, in Botswana, more Pula (rain) means more Pula (wealth). In my wife’s mind, “more houses” means more money. We all have non-money measures for success. Not just individuals, even companies.

For example, I recently saw a matrimonial website declaring proudly, ‘10000 people found their soul mates through our website.’

While revenue and profit will continue to be the success measures on one side, entrepreneurs can use these other measures to describe their progress. For example, number of new customers, number of repeat orders, big deals, value added, customer feedback score, loyalty, social impact, lives changed, local jobs created, number of patents owned or something else… what measure defines you or your company? What shows you are moving in the right direction? If you can name a new ‘currency’, what will it be?

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