Is it just me, or does it smell like pumpkin pie?

After reading the prompt, I immediately imagined myself sitting around my table at Thanksgiving, re-realizing “what really counts.” Like any good cheesy family flick, everyone stops whatever they were doing to be truly happy with each other. The workaholic learns that money isn’t everything, the silly teenager leaves her directionless, guitar playing boyfriend, and they all help the frazzled mom make dinner – because that’s what true happiness is all about. When they are “counting their blessings,” they don’t use numbers – from my experience at least. The things that make people happy are not very easily quantifiable. That is one reason measurement of impact is difficult. And though there are so things in common among the people listing their blessings, everyone says something different. What makes individual’s happy is different from person to person – a second large difficulty.

As an organization, how do you measure happiness, and how do you cater to every individual’s personal happiness? Well, you don’t. You find what you believe makes people happy, and try to offer that to people to see if it makes the difference you think it will. This is typically your “passion.” The difficulty here is that what will often happen is that we get so caught up in trying to make this organization run smoothly, that we forget why we wanted it to happen in the first place. To stick with the holiday theme, we are so caught up in the presents that we forget the true meaning of Christmas. But as we learn in “The Grinch that Stole Christmas,” there’s no reason for the presents if we forget why we have Christmas. So much is missed if we are so focused on accomplishing business goals that we forget what our true end goal should be, and what success really is. Success, to me, is improving individual’s happiness as much as we have power to do. If happiness is not the end goal, ultimately, then I believe it is a waste of time and resources. To improve many lives for the better, the business side of things does need to be running smoothly, absolutely. But that’s not what it’s all about. Unfortunately, I do not know of an NGO Grinch to get us all on back on the right track. But I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how this. How do we honestly bridge the gap between the hippie wanting peace, love, and happiness, and the accountant in need of numbers to crunch?

To be the most effective, it has to be a balance of the two – efficient use of time and resources, and making people happy in the end. So, if we can find ways to measure individual happiness, then we can discover how it is to make lots of different kinds of people happy, thus improving the organization. Our difficulties can help us find answers. Measuring happiness, perhaps by surveys or self-portraits (a WHO self-esteem test technique) or psycho-analysis.

Ultimately, we need to make the things that count countable, in order to make it really count. That way we can have our Christmas and unwrap presents, too.