Just a few years ago, I remember feeling excited and proud that I had gotten to the point in my business where I needed to hire not one, but TWO new assistants. I was over-stretched and overwhelmed at the time, and was excited to have two people to pass all my "stuff" on to. I had made it!
But ahhh, how quickly that pride turned to disappointment. Before the first month was out, one of the assistants decided she didn't want to work. And before the year was out, it was clear the other assistant wasn't moving my business forward.
It was only when both of them had gone that my business started to flourish and grow towards its potential again. Not only had I cut costs, I realized that some of the work they were doing manually was better done using a software, and some of the other work they were doing was simply a waste of time or padded with "nice to haves". It wasn't sexy having zero employees again, but it was better.
And that's why I am now so careful to recognize that it's not the "more" or the vanity metrics or the catchy sound-bites that tell us when we have "made it"; its the results and impact. It's not the mindless inputs, but the thoughtful outputs. It's not how little we sleep, but how much we accomplish while awake. It's not the number of hours we work, but the number of high-value things that get done in those hours. It's not working harder that is something to be proud of; it's working smarter.
Sure, sometimes we should be proud when we hire someone. And sure, sometimes we should be proud of how hard we work and how much we give up to achieve our goals (life is about tradeoffs, after all). BUT, we should also watch what we are proud of and make sure that we are proud of the things that have a real, measurable, and positive impact on us and our businesses and not just the things that sound impressive or make us look - or feel - like business bad-asses.
Watch what you are proud of and the other "stuff" will take care of itself.