Measure Performance photo from ShutterstockThere are no simple tests to know when you will be successful at something. However, there are a few factors that can be applied to create what I call the SDP Scale that may help you get a better feel for what will likely lead to success.

The SDP Scale

It’s simple in it’s elegance, yet can be hard in it’s application. The SDP Scale is an acronym for Skills, Desire and Passion. It is not a scientific scale, but does require some rigor and involves making challenging decisions. Below are the core points with a brief description of each.

  • Skills
    Skills can be taught. Skills develop over time. You may have a passion for baseball, accounting or the legal system. These are learned skills. They take time to develop. To truly develop them to their full potential you will need to exercise your Desire and Passion muscles. You will only be able to achieve excellence by putting in the time. The ability to put in the time will be fueled by your desire and passion.
  • Desire
    Desire cannot be taught. I tend to agree with Pete Rose here. You either have it or you don’t. If you don’t have it for what you are working on at the moment that’s OK. It is incumbent on you to keep looking for something that stokes your desire. As I wrote about in Is Someone Getting the Best of You? only you can decide when and where your best work will happen.

You can’t teach enthusiasm. You can’t teach desire. ~Pete Rose

  • Passion
    Passion can be learned and can develop over time. As success happens, sometimes quite serendipitously, you may find you have a skill and a desire that leads to a lifelong passion. Or, as I wrote about in Stoke Your Passion and Elevate Your Career you might find that some passions are short lived, but still 100% worthy of your time and rewarding in their own way.

Combining all three of these can provide you with an SDP Scale that can be used to objectively measure how likely you are to succeed at something. Of course, the SDP Scale can be used to evaluate others too. For example, your peers, your team and your organization. It can be a simple scale of 1 to 10 or it can be as simple as Yes or No. However, I think the Yes or No scale might be a bit arbitrary and not allow for nuances.

A Few Simple Questions

Can a few questions determine the ultimate success of something? Not completely, but they can provide a starting point. Of course, the reality is that these are not truly simple questions. Or, to say it a different way … these are very simple questions in that they are fundamental to understanding yourself, your team, your manager and others. Yet, in their simplicity they are very hard to address in a brutally candid fashion. One where you need to hold a mirror up to yourself and others. One where you are asking life and career decisions. Decisions that have both short and long term implications. Choose Wisely!

Do you have the Skills, Desire and Passion?

  • Ask yourself. If you don’t have these why are you here?
  • Ask your team. If they don’t have these why are they here?
  • Ask your organization. If these are not part of the core culture how will the business succeed?

When you can evaluate your Skills, Desire and Passion in an objective manner you will be able to do more with your time, more with your career and be able to give more back. The same is true if you are a manager. You need to be able to take a hard look at the traits that will keep your team energized and moving forward. It is possible and encouraged to interject your Skills, Desire and Passion into your management style. It will be up to you to determine if your SDP efforts are having the desired effect and impact. If not, you will inevitably need to make a change. The nice thing about the SDP Scale is that you can learn to utilize it in an objective manner to quickly assess a situation. You can use the SDP Scale to grow yourself, your team and (if you are so empowered) your organization.

Reality Check

Not every situation is going to command 100% of your Skills, Desire and Passion. This is OK and is to be expected. This is when you have the opportunity to Delegate, Empower, and Allow others to shine. In fact, a trait of a great leader is their ability to let go. This is your chance to let go. What if you can’t delegate or otherwise assign others? There will be times where you just need to suck it up and do the work. That’s ok and that’s life. Everyone has situations like this and they will always crop up. However, if you are true to yourself you can use the SDP Scale to align your future projects with your Skills, Desires and Passions.

When you do this you will Stand Out in your Career. You will be more satisfied with the work you commit yourself to do and it will show in your results. Your ability to get more done will be wrapped up in your desire and passion to do more. As you get more done you will be allowed (by yourself and others) to take on more tasks and stretch yourself. When this happens your skills will grow and you will develop additional complimentary skill sets. Of course, these are more commonly known as career management and skills development. However, I think there is more to it. When you apply the SDP Scale to yourself and others you will be able to focus on what you truly want to do. It is when this happens that you can truly shine.

What’s Next?

Put the SDP Scale to the test today. Evaluate yourself, your team and your organization. If this is the first time you’ve used this model you will have a baseline to evaluate, implement and plan for your next endeavor. As you become familiar with the SDP Scale you will find you can quickly evaluate yourself, your team and your organization. The ultimate goal is to find or create your best possible scenario to maximize your Skills, Desires, and Passions.