In The Trenches

A success metric for life

Published on August 6, 2014 Back to blog

Last week, while on vacation, my family went out for a day-long boat ride. My 6-year old son and wife sat in the back of the boat, while my 10-year old daughter and I sat in the front. As the boat bounced over the waves (and we bounced equally as high on the seats), my daughter had a smile from ear to ear and was screaming with joy and laughter. Eventually, she yelled over to me and asked if I was having as much fun as she was. I definitely was – but not because of the waves (those actually hurt every once in a while). It was simply seeing the joy on her face that had me elated.

This incident reminded me of a panel I sat on recently, where I was asked to summarize, in one word, how I define success. My word: “Smiles.”

At the end of the day, isn’t that what life is all about? Metrics such as revenue growth, ROI and profitability are, of course, all important. And, winning new business, increasing revenue and improving profitability are all very satisfying achievements. But, I’ve learned that we achieve the greatest happiness when we bring happiness to others. To me, that is success.

My happiest days at the office are when clients gives me a hug for how much they like the work. When a team member is proudly acknowledged for a job well done. Or, perhaps on the top of the list, when a cancer survivor calls or sends an email thanking me for helping them get through a challenging time in their life (via our annual Be Bold, Be Bald! event). We achieve personal happiness by simply making other people happy. (And, by the way, when you succeed at making others happy, positive financial metrics often follow.)

The “smile metric” is a difficult one to report on (I’ve yet to see a “smile chart” in any performance report). However, it is an easy one to set as a goal. And, when you make it a conscious goal, you will achieve it more often.

So, today, I encourage you to add a new metric to your day: “Smiles.” And, to help you achieve success, here are a few tips for generating them:

1. Acknowledge someone
Everyone loves a bit of acknowledgement. Don’t be afraid to give it to those who deserve it (even if it is for a small gesture). Their gratitude for your kind words will make you feel great.

2. Conduct acts of kindness
Whether it be volunteering for a non-profit, giving money to a homeless person on the street or giving up your seat to an elderly person on the train – those acts of kindness often generate the most thankful and authentic smiles. They can often make your day.

3. Do great work
This one may seem obvious. But rather than just focusing on “what needs to get done,” focus on “what will make the client smile.” You’ll be surprised at how much this slight change of perspective will result in better work – and happier clients.

4. Relax and have fun
In the business world, we often take ourselves too seriously. Relax and have some fun. Tell a joke (a clean one) or a story about your weekend (PG). It often lightens the mood and makes everyone more open to smiling.

5. Smile yourself
Smiles are contagious. If you’re smiling, those around you will likely follow.

I hope that this post made you smile. Have a great day.

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners