I once had a lawyer say the following to me:
Money is the way that we keep score in life
This, quite possibly, could be one of the silliest, and most useless statements ever made by a human being. I’m sure there are others, but this one at least ranks.
Keeping score of what?
How little purpose he felt in his life?
How much he had to mask his low self-esteem with meaningless “symbols”.
I respected this individual, so his statement caught me off guard. He was actually at the time trying to recruit me to work at his firm, and I guess he thought that statement would be an effective persuasive technique.
He guessed wrong. I’m sure glad I didn’t accept his offer.
Ok then, if we shouldn’t keep score of money, what about keeping score of success? Isn’t that what a resume is about?
Again, I think this is a bad idea.
In my experience, anything that I “keep score of” which in any way includes some factor that is outside of my control is a recipe for my own unhappiness.
Sometimes, no matter what we do, we just don’t get what we want when we want it. So if our happiness, or our sense of purpose, is based on an external condition – one that we cannot control – then we are constantly running the risk that this condition will not be satisfied, and then in turn, we will not be unhappy.
I think that keeping score is a very good idea, and I keep score all the time (every day for that matter), but it is very important to distinguish the things that I try to keep score of:
I only want to keep score of inputs, not outcomes.
Inputs are the “things that I put in”. They are the things that I do each day – the things that are entirely within my control. There is nothing that anyone, or anything can do to stop me from producing my inputs.
Let me explain by way of an example:
In my business –
The amount of money that I make is an outcome.
The number of prospects that I contact in a day is an input.
Input is directly within my control – 100%. Therefore, I only want to focus on, or keep score of, inputs. The amount of money that I make isn’t 100% in my control. It is close to 100%, but I cannot force people to buy what I sell. I can only 100% control my own actions.
In my writing –
The number of books that I sell is an outcome.
The number of words that I write each day is an input.
Inputs are 100% in my control. I can ensure that I’m going to get my 500 word goal for the day done. The number of books that I sell is outside of my control – therefore I don’t focus on it.
By keeping score of inputs only, I am happier, I am more productive, and (here is the grand secret) – I end up with better outcomes in the long run anyway.