Einstein quoted, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Business leaders would tend to argue with Einstein that that which is most valuable in our life can’t be counted or valued, aren’t we going to spend our lives just mired in measuring? Yet many businesses are overly obsessed with profit. Why don’t we care more about “happiness?”
In my time in Vermont, I met a hotel maid who made me question life’s essential ethos: how could someone actually find joy in cleaning hotel rooms? On a prima facie value, many travelers would potentially see an immigrant who needs that $7.00 job to support her family. And while that may be true, she didn’t find any particular happiness in cleaning rooms. Her goal in life was not to get to Heaven’s gate and proclaim she was the world’s greatest hotel room cleaner. What counted was the emotional connection she created with her fellow employees and guests. And what gave her inspiration and meaning was the fact that she was taking care of people who were far away from home. At the end of the day, she knew what it was like to be far away from home.
For some strange reason, most of us like all the ups and downs of life. Overhearing one traveler phrase it, “We like our suffering because it’s so good when it ceases for a while.” But seriously, if you are deeply unhappy within, all you are going to look for is a window from which to jump.
Yet all of us know many who, in very grim circumstances, manage to keep serenity, inner strength, inner freedom and confidence. If inner conditions are stronger, could we actually embolden our family and societal relationships sense of meaning, i.e., the emotional connection? For example, do you actually understand your mission in life? And do you feel like you believe in it, can you influence it, and do you feel your work actually has an impact on it?
If we’re taught as leaders to just manage what we can measure, and all we can measure is the tangible in life, we’re missing a whole lot of things at the very top of life’s sanctity. Look no further than Washington. Our legislatures and representatives focus solely upon economic metrics. So much so that few legislators actually connect with the greater society at large.
In 1954 Rabbi Hyman Schachtel wrote a book called, “The Real Enjoyment of Living.” Rabbi Schachtel suggested that happiness is not about having what you want; instead, it’s about wanting what you have.
Remember, want what you already have and love only that which can’t be counted.