How do you measure success? You’d think that there’d be a straightforward answer to that question, but it’s not always that simple. Success is subjective – how you measure it depends on the circumstances and the results that you’re aiming to achieve; the bottom line is that the way in which we evaluate success – whether our own, or that of others – is very much a personal thing. So, to the outside world, someone may be perceived to be extraordinarily successful, however in themselves, that individual might feel they still have a long way to go.
The metrics of success aren’t particularly objective either – although they may purport to be – the measures that we use may seem to be fairly simple and cut and dried, when in reality, they may bear no relation at all to our own personal goals and aspirations. Let’s take blogging, for example… How does the blogger measure success? Number of hits is an obvious choice to most people but, coming at it from a different angle, is the number and depth of comments a more valuable indication of the success of a writer’s posts? Then again, should success be measured by the number of followers or re-blogs? The value of any of these measures of success is entirely dependent on your point of view and from where you stand – a blogger can easily have a different perspective to their readers and, indeed, may have their own set of measures of success that are personal to them… word counts, quality of language and style and readability can all figure highly but don’t lend themselves particularly well to being measured.
This disparity in methods of assessing success can prove to be a problem for businesses – let’s take an example we’re all familiar with: Linden Lab. It’s fairly obvious, even to the casual observer, that the Lab currently chooses to measure business success based on volume of new sign-ups. To me, that’s a rather peculiar and short-sighted approach – if i was in charge, i’d be far more interested in levels of retention and whether those new sign-ups became long-term residents – if i might use an analogy, measuring sl’s success on the volume of new sign-ups is akin to measuring the success of a free concert based on the quantity of tickets given out: Surely a better measure of success is to count the number of bums on seats of people who actually bother to turn up for the show? It seems that in Linden Lab’s view, more new residents = a more successful company, but judging from what i’ve seen, heard and read over the past few months, the way in which established residents of sl measure the company’s success is very different – and based on those metrics, there are many who would say that LL is falling well short of being successful. This beautifully illustrates how the success of a business concern can be perceived as both excelling or floundering at one and the same time, depending on how you choose to measure it. At best, this can be mildly irritating – at worst, reliance on on the wrong indicators for success can spell commercial disaster. The question for Linden Lab is who, if anyone, is correct?
Leaving that aside, (i’m honestly not a Linden basher and i think i’ve caused more than enough controversy in that regard just lately!), let’s consider successfulness from an inworld perspective; although, in truth, it’s no simpler than it is in real life! You’d think that the real world business model would hold equally true for sl – but that’s rarely the case. Despite what people may tell you, very few actually make a killing in sl, in fact an awful lot of businesses barely break even once you take into account upload costs and the investment required to maintain an inworld outlet; as for making sufficient money to cover the amount of sheer hard work that generally goes into creating and marketing merchandise, few people indeed can claim to be making a decent ‘wage’ from their labours. Using any sort of real world success criteria, it seems that the vast majority of businesses in sl are far from what we would generally consider to be successes, so why do we bother?
The answer to that question owes much to the way in which we personally judge success. i’m going to stick my neck out here and suggest that most people who create, sell, build and provide services in sl are not really in it for the money and i’ll bet that many of them, whether they admit it or not, aren’t in the business of becoming sl world leaders in their particular product. For people such as this, a single one linden sale is very much a success; seeing their outfit being worn by someone else, or their building being put to use by another resident is equally a success; knowing that other people are getting pleasure from their creation is, very probably, a fundamental driving force behind what they do and is therefore the very essence – for that creator – of success!
While there will always be those in sl who measure success by numbers of units sold and the amount of lindens in their account, there are far more for whom success is measured on an entirely different scale – that of satisfaction in a job well done and the knowledge that they’ve created something worthwhile that, in their eyes has value and worth – and, if it has value and worth in the eyes of others too, then that’s even better.
Give me satisfaction over success, any day!
You think you’re there about to land
But is the trip just what you planned
You’re falling, yes you’re falling
For the sweet smell of success
The Stranglers – Sweet Smell Of Success