Is Performance the Best Way to Measure Success?
Have you ever been told by your boss: ‘Please, have fun when you work and don’t focus too much on results!’
I highly doubt it.
Yet, how can we be productive and performative if we are almost constantly under stress?
Have you ever thought you were not handsome enough, tall enough, fast enough, nice enough?
If so, do you know why we always tend to compare ourselves to others and why we tend to think that others are better than us?
One answer is that society and media always choose the “best” examples as a token.
For example, in beauty contests, in the Olympics, we have to highlight the “best employee of the month” or exalting the “Youngest Person Ever to Graduate From University”.
Social media doesn’t help either. People always share the best of their days and lives, “hiding” their failures and most challenging moments as if they were ashamed of them.
It is indeed gratifying to receive awards and acknowledgements for our work. But we must also recognize that each person is different. Each of us must be proud to improve and overcome our limits, not those of other people.
But the truth is that we live in a society obsessed with performance and comparison.
The performance society always makes us feel like we are competing. It does not consider that we all start from different starting points. Not everyone has access to the same education, for example.
In reality, the feeling of never doing enough is much more shared than we think.
More often than not, we tend to think of performance-based identities in favourable terms and as having positive consequences. Likewise, people usually admire — even envy — the intense self-belief demonstrated by the world’s top CEOs, movie stars, and musicians.
It is plausible that performance-based identities have many positive consequences for those who hold them. Defining yourself as exceptionally good at something presumably does wonders for self-esteem and confidence Such an identity is also likely to protect you during a poor performance or failure periods.
Suppose you know that you are a top performer. In that case, moments of not-so-good performance will be brushed off as temporary anomalies.
Performance-based identities are also likely to inoculate against the well-documented “impostor syndrome”. People discount their skills and abilities in their achievements, leading to feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy.
What should we do then?
First: let’s always remember to celebrate our achievements, no matter how big or small they are.
If learning how to order a coffee in Spanish is an important goal for you, celebrate it when you can do it!
Second: let’s re-evaluate the way we set our goals.
Let’s reflect on what is success for you?
Could having free time for your hobbies be a goal? Could it be a better person and helping others when we can? Have a month’s vacation per year with your family?
The truth is that there are far more satisfying and fulfilling goals than any sales record or any award.
Let us remember that we are not machines but people. It is suitable to improve ourselves and achieve challenging goals if it makes us feel good about ourselves and satisfied. Work is often necessary, and if we do a job we enjoy, it can also be satisfying. Still, we are not the work we are doing, and we are not the results that we are achieving.
This blog contribution was made by Eleonora Papini.
Eleonora is passionate about human psychology, sustainable development and international cooperation. Eleonora works as a Project Manager in a European project about urban sustainable development solutions aimed at valuing the young and female entrepreneurship industry.
In 2021 became also the Mentoring Programme Manager for the LMF Network and content creator for their blog.
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