Valuing things that cannot be measured

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Ask anyone; “Who do you think is the most successful person you know?” They will immediately name the richest person that they know. It is as if, their bank balance is a reflection of their success!

The purpose of success is to make you happy, and by that measure I would suppose that one would name the happiest person that they know. But the crucial question at this point is, how would you measure happiness?

Let us leave success alone; Instead ask; “Who is the nicest person you know?” People will struggle to recollect. Or at least take some time to provide you with an answer.

The fundamental issue here is not being able to value things that one cannot measure. Success being associated with wealth is easy to measure, but niceness is not associated with a number and hence, a struggle to measure.

I do not know where the human obsession with numbers began, but fundamentally we are wired to respond to numbers. We have an innate capability of quickly comparing things that have a number attributed to them. As a consequence of this we are great at valuing only those things that we can measure. But we are generally incapable of valuing things that cannot be measured.

Have you noticed how people use weight as proxy to measure health!

Not everything in life can be measured.

I began with ‘success’ as an example but it is troubling how this behaviour affects startups! There are many things such a the core values of a company; the perseverance of an entrepreneur; the attachment of a customer to the product; which all play pivotal role in the outcome of a business. All of these things are really hard to put a number on.

Often times people try to use proxies that can be measured in numbers, to be able to value things that cannot be measured.  This is as dangerous as it is stupid.

The dynamics that affect the attachment of a customer to the product might not necessarily be correlated to the number of users using the app, or any other number of parameters that people might be able to measure.

Correlation does not mean cause and effect. There is a marked difference between the two and this is at the heart of proxies being a great way to gauge something. Obsession with numbers, rather than the fundamentals, results in making wrong associations.

Since its hard to associate number with things like culture, design, customer satisfaction, most end up ignoring them. It is always important to focus on fundamentals.

What are the things in business that create value? Does the customer see value in the same and is willing to pay for it? If the customer sees value, he/she will pay and this will translate into profits.

Your differentiation and value creation might just be in the way you do things (culture, principles, focus), these are the things that you need to value. If the investors do not see the value in it, find investors who do? Don’t sacrifice the things that are helping you create value.

Apple was once considered a niche computer maker. They stuck to what made them unique; which investors find difficult to understand even today; look where it took them.

Not everything that makes up success can be defined in terms of numbers. Define what success as a business means to you and pursue it.

 

Imposter Syndrome is about achieving Potential

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Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,

Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani

This is perhaps the most important learning that one can take away from the Bhagwad Gita. It is also by far the least understood.

What it says is :

You have the right to work only; but never to its fruits.

Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.

 

This is contrary to human behaviour. Why would you do something, if you were not going to get something in return. The entire point of engaging in any activity is to reach a certain goal. We go to school because, that is the path to college. We go to college to earn a degree, to get a good job.

How many of you went to college for the experience? Would you have been able to convince your parents to make the financial commitments that it takes to attend college had you told them you were going there purely for the experience.

Perhaps.

In most cases, education is seen as a means of getting a good job.

 

But some of us, very few of us, are actually wired to do things because it interests us, or excites us, or makes us happy.

The fact that the activity is not being pursued with an implicit goal but purely for the fun of it makes you better at it. You are not burdened with achieving something. You are free to fail, to learn and to push the limits. That is all is needed to do awesome things!

When you do awesome things, good things come to you. This may be a promotion, recognition or some perks. While you are left thinking, I did not do anything great.

In the world of startups, this can seem extremely accelerated since things have a tendency to change quickly, while at the same time good work is recognised very fast.

Some folks end up feeling that they are being recognised while they did not deserve any of it and that when somebody finds out, their fraud will be caught. They suffer from what is called Imposter Syndrome.

When I started writing my blog regularly, some publications got in touch with me asking me if I would like to contribute to their publications. I do not consider myself a great writer, still don’t; my sister writes way better than me. Also I tend to be very robotic with my explanations.

I started writing just because I could. When I was told that a well known blog would like to republish me, I felt that they had it all wrong. I still continue to feel that my next piece will prove, what a load of crap I have been putting out. This next one will be the reason they will stop reposting my stuff. That feeling never goes away.

Turns out; the post I fear about the most, are the ones that get the best feedback.

The trouble with those suffering from Imposter Syndrome is that, since they are doing it without expecting anything in return they are achieving their true potential. It is hard to understand this, when you compare yourself with those who seem to be really putting in a lot of effort to be the BEST. You are the best because you are not trying to be; you are just doing what comes naturally to you. You have nothing to prove. For you there is just fun there to be had and you are having it.

Truth be told; those who seem to be suffering from Imposter Syndrome are just extremely talented people who tend not to see themselves that way.

If you feel like an Imposter, the most important question to ask yourself is; Are you doing what you are supposed to do? If you are, odds are you are not an imposter but just really humble.