You’re only good as your values
Have you ever been to LinkedIn? LinkedIn is a social media platform for the professional network. I’m quite an active member of LinkedIn. Whenever I am browsing the site the uncontrollable desire to compare my profile with others kicks in and post that I get miserable. By measuring myself against others I would feel low and underachieved. I started my career in 2001 as a Sales executive and got promoted as Sr Sales Executive within a couple of years. I believed if I continue to work hard, I will keep getting promoted and within 15 years I can make it to the executive level. I always value diligence and commitment. But I learned hard ways that growth in the corporate world is not so straightforward. Promotions are not directly proportional to the number of years of hard work. The point I am trying to make is while I work as a Senior Program Manager, I often feel unaccomplished, as if I couldn’t achieve much. Despite having a successful career, I doubt my achievements and would sulk about my career path. Why is that feeling?
I read a nice article on the same and based on my understanding this is all because of the way I’ve defined my Values and Metrics to measure success in my life. I would like to share another story but let me first explain what in general, values are? Values are the things that are like guiding light in your life. These are the beliefs that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They determine your priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to. When you are doing things that match your value you feel life is good and you are contented and successful. But when these don’t align with your values, then you may construe that as a failure. This may become the source of unhappiness.
In 1983, a talented young guitarist was kicked out of his band in the worst possible way. The band was just signed to a record deal and they were about to record their first album. But a couple of days before recording began, the band showed the guitarist the door- no warning, no discussion, no dramatic blowout. They handed him a bus ticket to home. As he sat on the bus back to his home, he kept asking himself. What went wrong? How did this happen? But by the time he reached his home the guitarist had gotten over his self-pity and he had vowed to start a new band. He decided that this new band would be so successful that his old band would forever regret their decision. Well, then the guitarist started working very hard and recruited the best musicians he could find- better than his previous bandmates. He wrote dozens of songs and practiced them religiously. His seething anger fueled his ambition. Within a couple of years, his new band had signed a record deal of their own. Can you guess who was that guitarist? The guitarist’s name was Dave Mustaine and the new band he formed was the legendary Heavy metal band “Megadeth”. Megadeth had sold over 25 million albums and today Mustaine is considered one of the most brilliant and influential musicians in the history of heavy metal music. And do you know, the band he was kicked out of was Metallica, which had sold over 180 million albums worldwide? Metallica is considered by many to be one of the greatest rock bands of all time. And because of this in one of the rare interviews in 2003, a tearful Mustaine admitted that he couldn’t help but still consider himself a failure. Despite all the success in the world, in his mind, he would always be the guy who got kicked out of Metallica.
Dave Mustaine, whether he realized it or not, chose to measure his success by whether he was more successful and popular than Metallica. He has all the money, fame, fans, and accolades but he still considered himself a failure. You and I may look at him and laugh. Here’s the guy with millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of adoring fans, a career he loves but he still considered himself a failure. Well, this is because you and I, have different values, and we measure ourselves differently. We may find Mustaine quite weird. However, Mustaine is quite successful but by his metric, “Be more popular and successful than Metallica”, he’s a failure.
What am I trying to say? Our values determine the metrics by which we measure ourselves and everyone else. If you want to be successful in life, it is imperative to change what you value and how do you measure failure or success. We live in a world of metrics and measurement. The source behind “Metrics” is our value system-the things we believe in. I believe in working hard and as per my belief, if I work hard, I deserve more. Because more is the ultimate symbol of success, we are taught to seek more pedigree, status, money, fans, followers, and more of almost everything that can be quantified. To measure that “more” I’d defined my metrics that within 15–20 years, I should be in an executive position. Similarly, for Mustaine, it was doing better than Metallica. The pursuit of more is an endless game because you’re always playing on a relative scale. There’s always someone who has more: an author who has sold more books, a founder whose company makes more money, an achiever who became CIO at an early age a musician who has sold more albums Somebody will always be ahead of you, no matter how much you have. Whatever you get, it’s never enough. Metrics are important for your overall growth & prosperity, but wrong metrics driven from your values can be detrimental to your well-being. Therefore, it is important to recognize and prioritize better values in life. Because wrong metrics can lead to envy, anxiety, comparison, and many other issues. It can lead to unreasonable standards for success, mental health issues, self-obsession.
Success is not defined as I thought “continuously climbing the ladders and keep getting promoted and similarly “doing better than Metallica band” for Mustaine. Working hard could be a great Value but the Metric to measure the same should be considered carefully. Healthy values are achieved internally. E.g. if working hard gives you more happiness and satisfaction then the right metric is not to measure what “more” you are getting but to measure your happiness and satisfaction in your life. The purpose of the metric is to enable you to become a person who is fulfilled and happy from within and doesn’t rely on external factors, events, or materials to count his achievements. It may sound philosophical but if you think through it is so true. Someone has rightly said, “You’re only as good as your values”.
What are your values and what is your metric to measure the same? Think about it.