Now that I’m starting to think about the business side of Health Month, I get to wade into the wonderful world of what success means to me, and what it means for Health Month, the business. Noah Kagan from AppSumo was helping me think it through this morning.
Your success and the success of what you’re working on can be two different things, or they can be the same thing.
When success for you personally isn’t aligned with the success of what you’re working on, bad things happen. Discontent, confusion, lost years, ulcers, etc.
When success for you personally IS aligned with success of what you’re working on, beautiful things happen. Meaning, fulfillment, purpose, drive.
Why then is it so difficult to align the two? I guess maybe because we don’t really think about it sometimes. When we build something, or work on something, we assume that its success is the same as our success. Because it’s ours, we’re working on it, etc. But how often have I found myself working on something (be it a job, a friendship, a relationship, a personal project, etc) only to realize after some time that its success was not the same as my own? Okay, not a whole lot but a few big ones stick out in my head and were doozies.
So, I want to make sure that my success and Health Month’s success are aligned.
At Amazon there was this idea of a “fitness function”. I think about it often. It’s a number that represents the fitness of the whole system. Your fitness function could strive to stay at a certain number, or it can strive to go higher and higher.
Body temperature is a good homeostasis fitness function for the body. If it’s at 98.6, you can know that pretty much everything is in order and good. If it’s too high or too low, you know something’s wrong. You don’t know WHAT is wrong, you just know that something is.
The stock price of a company is another good fitness function (usually). You want it to go up. If it’s going up, it’s usually a sign that things are going well at the company. You don’t know exactly what is going right, but you know that something is.
I am going to try to create two new fitness functions for my life. One for myself, and one for Health Month. The one for my life could include things like weight, money in the bank account, quality time spent with Kellianne and Niko, quality socializing time, etc. In fact, Health Month itself may be able to track my fitness function for me, given that most of the variables that I think are important to my own success are tracked in there. Those that aren’t…. should possibly be added.
Second, there’s the success of the site itself. Is it helping people improve their health? That’s the number one question. Once that’s established, how many people is it helping? That’s the second question. Is it sustainable, making enough money to run itself and for my small family to live off. That’s the third question. Am I finding the work enjoyable and fulfilling and meaningful to the world? If I can come up with a simple algorithm that combines those four variables (1 with a survey, 2 with a database query, 3 with a look at financials, and 4 with a subjective self-survey) then I’ll know how healthy Health Month is. And the higher I can make that number go, the better.
Fitness functions are an amazing way to quantify the seemingly unquantifiable. I will probably try to talk about it at the Quantified Self meetup I’m hosting (for the first time in Seattle!) next Wednesday. You should come!