“If what we’re doing only helps one person, then it’s worth it.”
I think this phrase started as a way to help motivate folks at times when all hope seemed lost.
It probably helped folks get through the terrible feeling of having no feedback and no measurable results.
The nerdy scientist in me just says: “well that’s dumb.”
If your goal is to make the world a better place than you left it, shouldn’t it all be worth it if it helps 2 or more? Then you’d have a balance of +1.
Without getting into the utilitarian philosophy of how to ratio quantities of people and the ways in which they must be helped . . .
I think we can all agree that if what you’re doing only helps one person, that sucks.
I think a better strategy would be to develop some real-world metrics and then dial them up.
Here are some examples of organizations that have abandoned the “one person is worth it” philosophy:
- Red Cross measures “lives saved,” “meals delivered,” and “shelter stays.”
- The OECD looks at income levels, poverty rates, and criminal data to develop some smart stats for measuring inequality and violence against women.
- Unicef measures “vaccines delivered,” “deaths prevented,” and a TON of other metrics.
Like anything else, anyone can start small and make a big impact.
No one is spending millions of dollars and saying “if it just helps one person . . . “
No. Let’s measure real-world success.
What’s really cool is that the act of measuring can promote improvement, all by itself.
2 Minute Action
What’s a goal you have?
Usually, personal goals include losing weight, eating healthier, and making more money.
Usually, career goals include promotions, quitting a job to start a company, or getting a job with a team they love.
Just pick one and let’s get specific.
Make it measurable:
How many pounds should you lose? How many this month? How will you get there? What will be different about it this time?
What exactly, will you eat? Will you plan every meal? Will you try having a “cheat day?”
How will you increase your income? Ask for a raise? Start a side project? How much more money? How much more money this year/month/quarter?
What do you need to do to get a promotion? Does your boss know? What would it take to actually quit? 6 months expenses in a savings account? Is your partner on board with this?
Who do you know that already works for that company? How can you get in touch with the hiring manager? Will sending a resume just put you at the bottom of the pile? What might you do to avoid the resume stack and get the hiring manager’s attention?
Can you start right now?
What’s something small you can do to get started?
Ask a friend for a reference. Ask a colleague to be a gym buddy. Set up a meeting with your boss to talk about your development.
You don’t need more than 2 minutes to start. I promise.