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Happiness = Reality divided by Expectations
29 June 2016, by , in Random Thoughts, No comments

I recently heard the author James Altucher make this statement, and a subsequent google search attributes it to the author Jodi Picoult. Regardless of its origins, I think the formula is very accurate, and can be easily applied to how happy associations are with their database systems and the effectiveness of their data management.

The key to the formula is “expectations.” The lower your expectations, the higher your happiness will be. For example, if you go to a restaurant expecting McDonald’s-level food, if they serve you much higher quality food, you’ll be very happy. Conversely, if you go to a very nice restaurant expecting good food and get McDonald’s-level food, you’ll be very unhappy. It all hinges on expectations.

Too often, I find association staff are unhappy with their data management systems because their expectations are too high, for any number of reasons. For example, I’ve encountered the following:

  • An executive director who wanted all kinds of data input into the database but was unwilling to enter the actual data! (Read here.)
  • An executive director of a small association who wanted to replace her current database and website system with a new one, but didn’t want to increase her current budget of $50 per month!
  • Senior leadership that expected all email data to be up-to-date all the time. When it was discovered that a board member’s data was incorrect, the ED wanted to trash the entire database!

All of these are examples of expectations that will set them up for unhappiness, because the reality can never match their expectations.

As my wife always says when people ask her how she can successfully raise four kids, “I just lower my expectations!”

It’s the key to happiness.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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