As summer wanes and the pressure-filled flurry of fall activities awaits, it is worth taking a moment today to exhale and evaluate. It is so easy in our fast-paced, get-it-done, get-ahead-now world to lose sight of what matters most. Albert Einstein wisely observed, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
When we spend time determining what counts in our life, we discover that many of the things which count the most simply cannot be counted. Things like: stress-free moments, inspiring thoughts, laughs, tears, confidence, love, satisfaction, pride, passion, joy, peace, excitement, connection are all among the things which matter most in life, and yet they are difficult to accurately or regularly count.
Success, progress and achievement are worthy goals that are worth pursuing and worth measuring. Yet, in almost every area of life there are things we count which don’t really count, and things which count that simply cannot be counted.
First and foremost, we must take the time to determine the things which truly count. Far too many of us find ourselves in that never-ending rat race of a chase in life, checking off tasks from our master to-do list which don’t really count in the end.
So we should ask ourselves: What matters most? What are the activities which will produce the results we desire in our personal life, in our family and in our community? Remember, being busy and being productive are NOT necessarily correlated, and motion can be deceptive when forward movement is what we are after.
We also must determine what doesn’t count. Theodore Roosevelt rightly identified something we should never count when he said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Critics definitely don’t count.
We will also discover that when we know what truly counts, we actually don’t have to worry about counting nearly as much. (For a guy like me who is horrible at math – less counting is a good thing!) Our success, happiness and peace of mind will be a natural byproduct of focusing on what counts and not counting what counts.
Einstein was right: In the arithmetic of success and achievement, happiness and peace of mind, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. Determining what counts for you is what really counts!
For Sutherland Institute, this is Boyd Matheson. Thanks for engaging – because principle matters.
This post is an edited transcript of Principle Matters, a weekly radio commentary broadcast on several radio stations across the country. The podcast can be found below.
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