How Do You Measure Success?

How Do You Measure Success? November 29, 2016


4 Assumptions About You and Success

  1. You want to be successful at SOMETHING
  2. You know few people who get more successful with years
  3. Your metric for success defines your destination in life
  4. Most of us have a faulty metric for success


All of Us Want to Be Successful at Something

Success is achieving a desired aim or vision. Success is the coming together of intention and efficacy:  moving from our current A to a better “B” on purpose.      I would imagine most of the following components are found in each of our pictures of success.

  • Purpose—we long to live for something that will outlive us.
  • Agency—we long to combine our energy and talent to change the world around us, especially at work.
  • Relational Wholeness—we long for peace and connection with the people who matter most to us, usually family and close friends.
  • Financial Health—we long for fiscal stability and the capacity to help others
  • Emotional Health and Presence—we long for the peace and presence to weather the storms and fully experience the moments of joy on the


Few Attain

When you combine my work, family, and social networks, I am connected with several thousand people. In my career as a pastor, I was the keeper of secrets.   I am also hopelessly analytical.   Here’s what I see.

Few people attain their longed for picture of success. In comparison to the picture above, many of them fail. Certainly, a few of them break from the pack and when you check back in they are noticeable better than the last time you connected. And certainly, a few are surprisingly the same, maintaining what they’ve always had.   Yet most people are not like wine—they do not get better with time.   Instead, they become more of the following:

  • Exhausted
  • Bitter
  • Lonely
  • Cynical
  • Fearful
  • Trapped by their consequences of their choices and addictions

Why? Why despite our longings and best efforts do we find failure instead of success? Here’s an answer. Our metric or scorekeeping grid is faulty.


Your Metric Determines your Destination

We measure what matters.

  • If you measure your net worth, then financial health is what matters.
  • If you track ways to appease your boss and move up the chain of command, then career advancement may be what matters.
  • If you measure the educational and career attainments of your kids, then having “successful kids” is what matters.
  • If you track your dress size than appearance is what matters.
  • If you measure the number of likes you get from your posts on Facebook than perhaps image is what matters.

If we are not attaining the picture of success for which we long, perhaps it’s because we measure the wrong things along the way. Our metrics don’t mesh with our desired outcomes.  Tragically measuring the wrong things inevitably leads to the failure we so desperately want to avoid.


A Better Metric

 This post begins a short series on the construction of a better metric. My thesis is this: the best success metric is a robust sense of calling. Calling is a multifaceted description of the responsibilities and tasks into which God invites and summons me.   Here’s why it leads to success: God always gives us the resources to do the things he’s called us to do.   His promise of provision neutralizes the threat of failure.   Calling hooks us into God defined ends and God supplied means.

Future posts will address:

  1. Myths about calling
  2. A Robust model of calling.
  3. A default, out of the box, starter version of work-life calling.
  4. Clues to discover your work-life calling.


It’s Not Too Late

In New York City, we ride elevators all day.   Elevators take us to where we are going. But tall buildings are tricky; many of them divide their elevators into different banks, each bank serving a different range of floors. If you want to go to 20 but get on the elevator that services floors 10-16, you will experience an Elevator Fail: you have to go back down to the lobby and get on the right elevator. The key is to make sure the elevator you are getting into is headed to the floor which is your destination.

Success is the same way.   Some of us are riding an elevator that can never take us to our desired destination. It’s time to go back and start over. What do you measure that you think will bring you to success? What are the chances that metric will deliver?


About the Author:  


Dr. Chip Roper writes Marketplace Faith from New York City, where he is the director of Marketplace Engagement at the New York City Leadership Center.  Chip is driven to turn the daily grind into a spiritual adventure.   In service of this vision to empower individuals to approach their work with a keen sense of vocation, he aims to end the “stunning silence of the Church regarding life at work.” He is convinced that a central piece of God’s plan for any city or community is the work that people do each day. You can learn more about him here. Chip is available for speaking, consulting, and coaching engagements. Inquire via his email:

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