By Janis Kugler
Etched on Michael Jackson's tombstone is a list of his accomplishments: songwriter, singer, producer, dancer, choreographer, humanitarian, Jackson 5 member, soloist, 13 #1 singles, 13 Grammys, 197 awards and 37 top 40 hits. A large tombstone! This epitaph looks like output to me-success as measured by activities rather than purpose and impact. While it sounds impressive because we understand all the money and power that came with Michael Jackson's career, what if we measure life by outcome and not output?
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What are we ultimately about in our personal and professional lives? And how do we know if we're successful? Is our end result about output or outcome?
Most of our day-to-day activities measure output. Output relates to "what we do" and is measured in activity and metrics. What have you done for me lately and how can we see quickly and tangibly that we're making progress? In business, we measure activity and widgets produced or if we're in ministry we measure the three "B's"-butts (attendance), bucks (financial giving), and baptisms (conversions). While these are all good things, they aren't necessarily the full measure of personal or professional success.
Outcome refers to "what difference is there" and is measured in impact, transformation and purpose. Outcome focuses on the big picture of what matters most. Feedback isn't immediate and results may take a lifetime. Take mothering for example. It is all about outcome and the long-term return on our day-to-day investment of time and energy. In ministry, outcome is defined by how people's lives are different because they have intersected with our organization.
When I think about my life and my eventual epitaph, I want my husband, daughters and grandchildren to talk about the difference I made in their lives. I want co-workers to talk about the way I challenged them to be more and to live out their God-given purpose. I want people to understand that I lived out God's purpose for my life. Like David, I want people to say that I served "God's purpose for my generation." (Acts 13:36) That sounds like an outcome. When we live a life of purpose as evidenced by outcome-or maybe even fruit-as Jesus called it, we've been
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Jesus was all about outcome. His earthly ministry wasn't about the number of people
he came in contact with, but rather it was how their lives were different because
they had been with him. He wasn't interested in outward appearance but o
nly what had transpired at a heart level. Jesus' outcome was a changed heart and life.
Janis Kugler is President of Facet Consulting Group. She consults with a variety of non-profit organizations, specializing in strategy and resource development. Prior to launching her consulting business, she served for 12 years with MOPS International in the areas of development, marketing, strategic planning and organizational research, learning and innovation. Visit www.facetconsultinggroup.com for more information.