What Gets Measured Gets Improved.


I was speaking to a group of Insurance Advisors recently and during the day I encouraged them to set a 10 week goal for themselves. In retrospect “insisted” may have been a better word than “encouraged” because I think one or two of them felt a little bit pressurised, so much so that they suggested that I should join in the goal setting process.

Well, I’m not one to shy away from a challenge like that but as I don’t sell insurance for a living it took me a couple of days to think of a goal that would be appropriate for the 10 week time scale that we chose. Eventually I decided that I needed to lose the weight that I had gained before my attempt at swimming Cook Strait – it certainly wasn’t needed to keep me warm in chilly water anymore!

The extra kilos weren’t helping my fitness, I wasn’t swimming well and my attempts at cycling had shocked me – I didn’t remember it being such hard work a few years ago. So I decided to set the goal that in 10 weeks I would be at least 5kg lighter

So I knew what I was letting myself in for I thought I’d measure my current situation so that I could chart my progress over the 10 weeks. I took a deep breath (then let it out in case it weighed anything!), stripped off and got on the scales.  85kg was not a welcome sight.  I quickly figured out that I’d need to lose 0.5kg a week and came to the conclusion that it was, in my mind anyway, achievable.   Next I cleared the cupboards of snack/junk food, gave a friend my remaining beers and formulated an eating plan for the next ten weeks – not starvation, just sensible eating that I seemed to have lost the knack of over the last two years.

After a week I weighed myself again and recorded a loss of 800g, and a fortnight after that I’m happy to announce that I was 2.8kg lighter.  I’ve also found I have been very disciplined about exercising and clearly my mental focus has been on achieving my goal so my body and mind seem to have adjusted to help me get there.

Many years ago I was speaking at a conference and the speaker before me (a sales management specialist) was encouraging the managers in the room to start measuring the activity of their sales teams. Many of the managers were only recording one figure – the amount each sales person sold and the speaker encouraged them to measure activity as well as results. The number of calls they made, the number of appointments they did, the number of times they called their existing customers etc. After he left the stage the MC for the day thanked the speaker and said how appropriate his message had been adding the line ” What gets measured gets improved” which I thought was extremely appropriate.

I’d like to encourage all of you to set yourself a goal over the next couple of months and see how much you can achieve just by focusing on the end result, and measuring your progress along the way.  The actions that you control that are directly related to you achieving your goals. That may be the number of sales appointments you make per week, the distance you run each week, the amount you save for your holiday each week.  Just start measuring and recording those activities and I’ll guarantee that your numbers will improve which should mean that you’ll achieve better results and get your goals sooner than expected. Just measuring your actions will cause your sub-conscious to switch your mental focus to that activity and you’ll improve almost without trying.  


John Shackleton CSP

[email protected]



John Shackleton CSP is an ex swimming coach, performance expert and is passionate about helping businesses raise their game.

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