My mother has this incredible ability to provide just the right words at the right time. Now, whether or not she truly authors these words (as she would contend), or spends her free time memorizing notable quotes for such occasions, has yet to be determined. Either way, the words she chooses have significant impact. First, they can get sidetracked thinking back in alignment, and second, they provide great blog fodder on a writers-block kind of day. This quote is what I would call a two-for-one:
"Not everything that counts can be counted. However, not everything that can be counted counts".
Once you get past all of the counting, this quote actually provides a lot of insight as to how people view what is or what is not important – especially as it pertains to the tangible versus the intangible. In other words, there are some activities in daily life that cannot be checked off a to-do list, or quantifiably measured, but still bring incredible value. Things that come to mind are meaningful conversations, implication thinking, brainstorming, creativity, caring, patience, etc. And on the flip side, there are a lot of activities that look good on paper, but in the end, provide very little value.
As a society, we have grown accustomed to placing a premium on the things we can see or measure. Don't get me wrong, I think managing to results is critical, but I have also witnessed people (myself included) busy with activities, yet still getting nowhere. It's like sitting in a rocking chair all day – you may rock back and forth a thousand times, but you can be guaranteed you won't budge an inch.
While the intangible activities may be difficult to count, they should not be dismissed or seen as less important. Like most things in life, it is about striking a balance and finding the right way to accomplish your goals. Today, I finished a blog and it's off the to-do list, but I promise you that after hearing my mother’s comment, I might find myself engaged in one of those intangible activities; one that she would refer to as a "teaching" moment.
Have you been counting your activities?