Celebrate Incremental Success

We have a daily five minute all-team meeting at crowdSPRING. At this meeting, we review key performance metrics from the day before. We share this information with the entire team because we believe in being transparent and because we want each person on the team to know how we are doing as a company and to see firsthand how the changes we make as a team impact our business.

During a meeting earlier this week, someone asked whether we should lower our goals for each day so that we could meet the goals more often. My initial reaction was to respond that we set the goals high based on what we’ve already achieved and based on our desire to push ourselves hard to achieve more. I still believe that to be true.

But our short discussion prompted me to think globally about how people interpret goals and how they measure success. Many people have difficulty  appreciating smaller accomplishments. After all, we are conditioned to believe that success in founding a start-up is met only if you sell the company for hundreds of millions of dollars. We think that success in starting a blog is meaningful only if we have 50,000 subscribers. We are conditioned to believe that success on Twitter means a minimum of 5,000 followers. We think that being a successful graphic designer means being able to charge tens of thousands of dollars for a logo. And we think our kids are successful only if they become a doctor or a lawyer.

Setting very high goals is important – we do it as a company and I do it for myself as an individual. But setting very high goals can also paralyze because it takes an incredible amount of effort to achieve such goals. And while that effort is ultimately well-spent when you achieve your goals, it does limit what else you can do while you are trying to get there.

Think about success as an incremental process. Remember when you were young learning to play a new instrument for the first time, or learning to read? Success then was defined by small incremental steps. Each step built upon the next.

Especially in today’s chaotic economic climate, it’s important that people assess how they measure success. You should not lower your goals merely because it would be easier for you to meet them. But you should celebrate incremental success. And then you should build on that success, step-by-step.