Success is usually measured in terms of quantity. More is believed to be better. We like things to be quantifiable as this is how we can measure or count them. The quantitative is also great for comparison, because it provides a way to measure our progress against peers or competitors e.g. how much money we have compared to others, how many kids, how many cars, degrees, houses etc. A lot of people find this comparative and quantifiable measure very motivating. This however does encourage the ‘keeping with the Joneses’ syndrome where you are driven to succeed for the wrong reasons.
There is a numeric value for most things that we use or do – the amount of hours we work a week, how much we weigh, how old we are, etc. There is a natural bias towards the quantitative – towards counting up things. This also applies to our digital/online lives. We constantly monitor the number of our Facebook friends/fans, Linkedin contacts, Twitter followers, blog post views, website clicks etc. It is all about the quantity. But, this can easily lead to an unhealthy obsession with stats.
I work as a researcher and in research there are two main methodological schools of thought – quantitative and qualitative schools. The quantitative school is distrustful of anything that can’t be quantified or measured. The qualitative school argue that not everything can be quantified or counted up. Not everything can or should be assigned a numeric value.
I love the MasterCard ‘priceless’ adverts which end with this tagline: “there are some things money can’t buy but for everything else there’s MasterCard”. Hence according to MasterCard, there are some things that are ‘priceless’ or unquantifiable. These include things such as love, friendship, peace, joy, faith etc. Albert Einstein once said that “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.” I would like to end with a quote by one of the richest men in America in the twentieth century, John D. Rockefeller who said that ‘I’ve made many millions but they brought me no real happiness. I’d barter them all for the days I sat on an office stool in Cleveland and counted myself rich on three dollars a week”. Quantity does not always equate quality.