One of the purposes of this blog is to push our thinking beyond our current boundaries. So, today I wonder how our priorities would change if we measured only two things:
1) How fulfilled are the lives of our students and alumni?
2) What impact are they making on the world?
Sound too idealistic? I don’t think so. Recent research has placed serious doubt on the validity of our current standardized testing. Namely, it doesn’t predict future college and career success! Couple that with the fact that our changing world means that career skills are a moving target. Additionally, a quick scan of the headlines of popular magazines from news to home design yields words like passion, joy, mission, purpose, and happiness. In fact, over 50% of the articles in this month’s issue of Fast Company, a business magazine, are about making a positive social impact.  
Even the OECD, a group of wealthy countries focused on financial growth has begun to measure and compare countries on what it calls well-being.

Over the last two decades, however, an increasing body of evidence has shown that subjective well-being can be measured in surveys, that such measures are valid and reliable, and that they can usefully inform policy-making. This evidence has been reflected in an exponential growth in the economic literature on measures of subjective well-being.

To answer my question, here’s how I think my priorities might change:

  • I would smile more. I would make more time for laughter at work.
  • I would probably exercise more.
  • I would connect with my friends before trying to start or complete another work-related project.
  • I would probably be more patient and gentle with students, teachers and administrators.
  • I would probably need to get to know students better — their hopes, their fears.

Something I’m going to do right away no matter what: find out more about how to reliably measure fulfillment and impact. That’s my next homework assignment for myself. 🙂