How do we measure success?
A lot of focus is being made within our organization about "numbers". Specifically the number of shoots and the number of people attending those shoots. We have become consumed in the "numbers". It's become all about doubling every year. At a recent RBC the conversation came up around the campfire about how do we measure success if not by the "numbers"?
Several years ago I had this same discussion with my local church because they too had become obsessed with the numbers: Number of attendees on Sunday morning. The number of ministries they were supporting. The size of their building to increase the capacity for their numbers. The number of dollars given on Sunday.
Well I dared to question their "business logic" behind that focus and was summarily shown the door. That may happen here again, but I am going to put this out there none the less.
What I told them and what I'm going to say now are the same thing:
You do not measure the success of a "mission" by the numbers. You measure the success by how many lives have actually been changed.
We talk a lot about winning the hearts and minds of our fellow American's and up to this point we have measured that success by the number of people who have attended an Appleseed. So what! Somebody attended an Appleseed. 10,000 people attended an Appleseed. 20,000, 40,000, 1 million people attend an Appleseed. What have we accomplished? We successfully accomplished reaching a number. Numbers don't change anything. People do. People are our mission. Period.
If their lives have not been changed by attending an Appleseed, what have we done besides teach them how to shoot a rifle? Nothing!
Don't get me wrong... Numbers have their place, but the true measure of success is in a changed life. A life awakened. A life that no longer lives as it used to. A life that is on fire for the mission at hand. A life willing to sacrifice for the good of the mission and for the lives it will change. A life no longer focused on itself.
We have some of those in Appleseed. They are the Instructor core, the Applecore, and everyone else that volunteers their time, money, and energy to help spread the message. Those are changed lives. Those are the number of people we should be counting and focusing on. Those are the people who will save the sinking ship. Not the people attending shoots.
To that end I want to challenge everyone, especially Fred and the rest of the admins and people counting numbers, focus on doubling our number of Instructors and Applecore volunteers. Focus on changing lives and not on chasing numbers. People follow people. It's as simple as that. Focus on creating the largest and most "on fire" group of people that's ever been and the mission will take care of itself. The shoots will happen and the success will be tangible. You have to make sure the infrastructure is in place before you can expect to tackle the mission and win.
What do you think will be more appealing to an Appleseed attendee? What do you think has a better chance of lighting a fire in their soul? 35 shooters and three instructors on the line just trying to get through the POI and History? Or 35 shooters and 40 instructors on the line giving them one on one instruction and talking to them the whole weekend about their own experience with Appleseed and the mission at hand? People won't care what you know until they know how much you care. You have to build a relationship first before you invite them to join the mission. At that point, you've already won their heart and mind and selling them on an orange, blue or pink hat, or whatever bucket fits best, becomes automatic.
I measure my success in being invited back to do it again. For a real quiet moment to discuss how good it feels to "didn't disappoint".
If I were fired up to save the sinking America - I might have to find how high the water is rising - but then listening to the current "anti-everyone that ain't me" ads on the television, or listening to the politicians as they tell you they are different than the other woman in office. Yeah, glad I don't really care about America going down. I care about the Americans that are being born, growing up and getting on with life - my posterity. Hmm, the country isn't what is presented in Washington, DC, or even what the powers that be think in Washington State - the country is the people and what they are up to. If the tornado comes through and rips off the roof, if a fire breaks out and the family gets out safe, if a flood comes and carves a whole under the homestead and washes everything except the people - well, we rebuild, we rebuild. Appleseed is a rebuilding of some of our best, but forgotten heritage.
And I thank God that we can.
I do know that I find the numbers present really wonderful. There are enough shoot bosses that I can fade into the old postings in the forum - and be talked about like I no longer exist. But I started my most recent Appleseed with 34 pre-registered, had no shows and walk-ons, started the first Redcoat with 32 shooters, and by Sunday afternoon the last Redcoat was fired by six remaining shooters. The Appleseed started with a Shoot Boss, two Red Hats, seven IITs - we closed with the Shoot Boss, two Red Hats, and five IITs and five Riflemen and one lady very interested in building a Designated Appleseed Range so they would come.
Numbers, I once read every AAR for every Appleseed each weekend, I can't now - and I don't want to know when it got to be too many to count - that would be admitting that I am getting older than dirt. In one respect I would kind of like to think that I would be like Samuel Whittemore - still fighting at eighty, I am only sixty-two. But more likely as the RWVA gets out counting this and that, and boasting about this and bragging about that - I am more likely to be as independent as James Nichols. I am not a very social fellow, being my own man was taught to me very young.
This is a fine, very simple and effective program, one shooter, one listener at a time. Thirty-five shooters and seven cadre is good, ten cadre is better, and some day - maybe thirty-five cadre for thirty-five shooters (don't hold your breath). Stay on message, focus on the front sight and don't fuss the shot. As soon as my wife retires me I should go on the speaking circuit, write a book and really learn how to engage beyond twenty-five meters.
Make every shot count out there.