Have you ever filled out those surveys that companies give you after you’ve paid for their products? They kind of look like this...kind of.
“Thank you for giving us your money! Now that you’ve done us a HUGE favor by taking inventory off our hands, please take some more of your time to fill out an online survey that will allow us to send you emails for the rest of your life.”
With this perspective you'd think I’d choose to refrain from participating in said surveys, but being the American consumer that I am, the promise of a 10% off coupon in exchange for my time always proves too tempting to resist. Therefore, with head held high, and junk email folder full, I confess that I am a "Survey Taker."
As an experienced Survey Taker, I have recognized many of the similarities and differences in survey technologies. For example, while they all differ in time duration, taking anywhere from five to twenty minutes to complete, most of the surveys usually share the following question and subsequent scenario:
“On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being Extremely Satisfied and 1 being Extremely Dissatisfied) please rate your overall experience.”
At this point, I typically take way too much time deciding on my answer. “What is a 10?” “Would I recognize a 10 if I saw it?” “WILL I EVER BE SATISFIED!?” When I finally start breathing again, however, I remind myself that there can be no wrong answer. I am, after all, just a statistic. So, I click on 8. Then I change it to 9 because I don't want to be mean.
The surveying process continues in this same fashion until finally, after all my hard work, I receive that illustrious message:
“Click to receive your coupon.”
And I do.
The coupon is printed, and I go on with my day feeling confident that if I return to the store within the next 60 days, and I probably won’t, I will be able to elude sales tax.
So why do companies go through the hassle of convincing people like me to take these surveys when they know full well I could possibly write a blog about it? They do it as a way to understand the current experience that their customers are having with the company. Then, after the results are in, the people in power make the necessary changes to ensure the company is running exactly how they want it to.
Which then leads me to ponder, “What if our lives had surveys?” “What kinds of questions would we have to answer?” Maybe one like this:
“On a scale from 1 to 100 (100 being the most important, and 1 being the least important) please rate the different persons, places, things, and ideas in your life according to their respective importance.”
Seems simple enough. I rate my highest priorities: family, health, home, faith… And then fill in the rest: work, thai food, Project Runway…
“Now on a scale from 1 to 100 (100 being the most powerful, and 1 being the least powerful) please rate the different persons, places, things and ideas in your life according to their respective power.”
Interesting. You would think it would just be the same list, right? And yet, so often, my “personal health” is competing with “chocolate.” “Family” is threatened by the power of my “cell phone." And “laughter” and “love” are battling their most powerful nemesis, “stress."
The results of my make believe survey remind me of one of the greatest lessons that I continually learn in my life. “Things are only as powerful as the power you give them.”
Priorities cannot be powerful by themselves. Neither can cell phones. They can all be important, but they can’t be powerful. It's up to us to decide. It is our decision alone that gives others the power to make us feel a certain way. It is up to us to determine the true power of our words. The concept may seem overly simple, but the fact is it's true.
We are the CEOs of our lives. If we don’t like the results of our surveys, that’s okay. It’s not a summary of who we are. It’s just a summary of our current experience. And with those survey results, we, as the ones in power, can oversee the changes that will make us exactly who we want to be.