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Why Success Should be Measured by Intangibles

Blue Play Fully Brave notebook on top of notepad and laptop

Last year, I wrote a newsletter about measuring success by your own yardstick. The cliff notes version: measure your success and journey by your own yardstick. Not Oprah’s yardstick. Not Adam Grant’s yardstick. Not your best friend’s yardstick. The right apparatus to measure success is one thing. But what about how you are measuring success?

I was having a chat with one of my team members recently, and we were recounting the newsletter and how it has evolved since its creation two years ago. Our conversation shifted from focusing on numbers, audience growth, and the hard-hitting data of newsletters to stories of responses we had received from newsletters. Often the responses that tug at our heartstrings the most are from newsletters that, well…we didn’t think were that great. For instance, our short and sweet Christmas week newsletter received a reply saying, “Thank you, I needed this email this week.” 

A comment in our conversation struck a chord:

“This is why we do this. To have this impact.”

Numbers, graphs, Google Analytics, and concrete data tell one story. Don’t get me wrong, they are important. They shouldn’t be dismissed. Especially as a business owner, I need to understand the health of my company. But there’s another way to measure success. It’s by the intangibles. It’s by those things that can’t be depicted in a PowerPoint presentation or can’t be proven to show an uptick in sales. These intangibles of success are directly tied to the why behind your business. 

The other night my good friend Laura Mazzullo, a recruiter in NYC, shared that people will ask her, “So have you had a successful year?” She will respond, “Depends, what is your definition of success?”

At the beginning of the week, the SNoW Co. team had a goal setting meeting. Our agenda was to review the wins of 2019, work through a matrix to talk about how we wanted to work with each other, and then focus the majority of our time on laying out goals. Instead, we spent nearly three hours talking about how we wanted to show up and work with each other. There were tears and laughter. We talked about personal and professional concepts. We didn’t glaze over our feelings. No goals were set at that meeting, but I measured it as a success. It’s a bigger story of success. Because our team can come as we are, without walls or personal agendas and just be. That’s one of the biggest intangible measures of success for me.

Yes, I own a business to make money and a living. But that’s at the very surface of the why to Sarah Noll Wilson Inc. It is the intangibles where I feel my success can be measured. Success is in  the personal stories I receive from this newsletter. Success is the phone call I had with the father of a child with ADHD. Success is having people say, “You aren’t like other trainers”. Success is being able to provide benefits to my team. Success is being surrounded by incredible people I get to call my  team. Those are the measurements of my success. Those are the things that I can go back to when my saboteur comes roaring in. These intangibles are the things that lift my team up when we’ve had a tough week.

As you dive back into work and excuting those goals for 2020, tell one story with the numbers and data. But tell another story with the intangible measures of success. What is important to you? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Take time to reflect on what stories, feedback, emails, and feelings that feed into these intangibles.  What intangible measure of success are you proud to have accomplished?

Let’s use our own yardstick, and let’s write our own stories of success!

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Comments (2)

YES! Thank you for your thought-provoking and inspiring newsletter. There is something so powerful about personal stories and those intangibles that are difficult to capture with a business metric.

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