Infinite goods, finite measurements
5 May, 2020

When you’ve got $10, you’ve only got 10 units of 1 to give away.

When you’ve got joy, you’ve got… even more when you give it away.

When you’ve got love, you’ve got… even more when you give it away.

It’s a grave mistake to compare and measure infinite goods, like love and joy, with scarcity mentality like money. So the first issue is a language one. Avoid currency-like, zero-sum metaphors!

You can make love like a currency. But then it’s problem-love. “I love her more than him, I love this child the most,” and so on… a kindness to one person is not a kindness to someone else because it wasn’t fair.

But there’s a second, and amazing, application. What if we could make some things that seem finite work with infinity? I think there are two ways to do this:

First, you could replace the tedium of a transaction with infinite goods like joy, connection, generosity, purpose, meaning, and fun. Take these to sales calls, customer service, and so on, and you’ll be creating net more of the greater goods without spending a dime.

Second, you could see with bigger vision how every micro-transaction that can be measured actually works towards a greater goal that can’t. Why are you putting in so many hours, working so hard, earning so much money, taking on the debt, looking for the promotion? Isn’t it so that… joy, love, connection, fun, meaning. Perhaps you can choose those latter things without the former (a great subject to explore), but you can also connect the measurable with the immeasurable, and thereby give all of our work meaning.

P.S. this is why the McKinsification of “measure everything” in business devolves to 1x work—grasping at what’s easy to put a metric on is an easy way of avoiding whether it really matters.

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