We are well and truly into 2012 and, for many with young children, yesterday’s return to school for the majority of students in WA means the real start of the year.
I had written an article during the month of January on how to achieve goals, setting accountability, resourcing, etc. in light of the kinds of New Year resolutions people make, but I felt there was something dreadfully wrong with the article. All of the things I was writing about are good (and I will post them on the blog), but it was missing the key point: Does it really matter?
I find so often people make New Year’s resolutions and set goals and targets and either drop them like a lead balloon or work frantically away without properly considering how important it is to them, to their business, career or to their loved ones. Like a mouse running in the wheel, there’s a lot of activity but they’re not really getting anywhere. I mentioned this in a couple of presentations to business groups during 2011, giving the example of how people’s resumés (and I have frequently observed many in government doing this – I’m sure my government readers are excluded) are often padded through with all of the activity they have been involved in – committees, standing groups, involvement in sales and marketing campaigns, budgetary oversight, positions held and more – but no real sense that they have actually achieved anything that made a difference.
There is an episode of the brilliant BBC satire “Yes Minister”, where Sir Humphrey Appleby, a highly positioned UK civil servant, animatedly defends a brand new hospital that was completed 15 months prior, has over 500 staff but no medical personnel and no patients. He argues:
“We don’t measure our success by results, but by activity, and the activity is considerable – and productive. Those five hundred people are seriously overworked…”
(After inventing this absurdity, the writers say that they discovered before finalising the script that such hospitals and hospital wings actually existed in Britain at the time). I’ve written previously that this has in the past been one of the downfalls of Australia’s present federal government.
Here is a definitive prediction for 2012: There will be economic upheavals and “downheavals”, doomsayers and optimists, there will be difficulties and challenges placed before you and opportunities (sometimes heavily disguised). But unless you work towards something you believe in and are passionate about, unless you strive to create positive results, unless you work with others who equally want to see these results achieved, then only blind luck will make something happen that makes a difference.
Is what you are doing really making a difference that matters to anyone, to you especially?
Are you measuring your success by activity, or by results?
Here’s to a great 2012!