How do you measure success?


How do you measure success?To laugh often and much;To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children:To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;To appreciate beauty;

To find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, a redeemed social condition;To know even one other life has breathed easier because you have lived - - This is to have succeeded.

- Bessie Stanley

Through the years I've found myself returning to this poem (commonly, but inaccurately attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson) to help me reset how to judge success. Maybe you can relate.

I easily lose my way when I evaluate how life is going.  I want to look at big bold goals and accomplishments.  I want showy, boundary-breaking success.  I like audacious ambition. I want to hit the ball out of the park.  I appreciate the outrageous goal of Steve Jobs to make "a ding in the universe."

Stanley's ideas seem quaint in contrast to Jobs.

And yet, sometimes the simplest ideas are the most challenging to live by.  Even more "basic" than Stanley's approach is an idea found in Judaism and Christianity, which is to "Love God and love others."

That's about as clear a yardstick for success that I can think of.

Two things. Clear and simple, but not easy.

Still, when it comes to measuring success, clarity gives us a filter for evaluating our actions and a focus for what to do next.

How do you measure success?