“Not everything that can be counted, counts and not everything that counts, can be counted.”
I am not a motivational speaker. Nor am I someone who has a ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’ frame in my home. However, I was in a consultant’s waiting room the other week and saw this quote scribbled on the whiteboard:
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”*
It intrigued me because the more I read it, the more I realised how vast the interpretation of this quote could really be. And at this time of year when everyone is frantically trying to close deals before Christmas, set up new ones for the year ahead and organise everything else in between, I thought this would be a good excuse to stop and reflect – something that none of us really have time to do, but something that is completely underrated. So if you can, just sit for one moment and give some thought to the following: Do counted things always count? And can those things that count, be counted?
Let’s first consider some qualitative aspects of a business. Things such as an employee’s honesty, integrity and value to a team; or a company’s strategy, marketing endeavours, and public reputation. These are all examples of things that weigh heavily in a business and count for a lot, however it is very difficult to place an exact value on what they contribute.
Now imagine counting the dollars spent on creating an innovative product. You outlay money to develop it and perfect it, only then to realise there’s no money left to promote it. Oops. If your target audience does not know about this innovative product, how will they know to buy it? If no one buys it, what does it ‘count’? One may argue it counts as a lesson in product development and the importance of marketing. However, the dollars spent can’t really ‘count’ as they have not delivered commercial success for your product. So the interpretation of what counts in this type of case, can be quite subjective.
And the same applies to personal reflection – it will be different for everyone. I could tell you that the effects of kindness cannot be counted. Or health, humility, honesty and trust. To me these values count, but to you they may not. And that’s ok, I don’t intend to impose peace-loving values on you or make you start ‘ommm-ing’. Rather, I’m hoping this short note will encourage you to stop, for one moment and reflect on what really is important and what really does count, both in your career and in your home. Then you can be the one to decide whether this statement ‘counts’ or not.
(*There is speculation about whether this is Albert Einstein’s quote or William Bruce Cameron so here I give credit to both for a great thought provoking statement.)