## Not Everything that Counts…

We can measure dollars and cents. Things with a numerical value that add up, subtract, divide and multiply (you know how math works). This is the easiest stuff to measure. We can count it. But does it really count? Does it really matter?

Often the most important things in life cannot be counted or measured. For example, we can’t measure the psychological impact on a mother who has started her own business, is now able to provide an income for her family ensuring her kids can go to school and is paying the loan back which got her started. I can tell you that we know that she is a different person now as she lifts her family out of poverty. We know she is having a positive impact. We just don’t know how to fully measure it. There is no graph that can measure every good thing that happens now, from the daily difference in their family interactions to the long-term impact her children will have in the world now they are getting an education. Measuring loan size and repayment rate just doesn’t seem to do it justice.

Even so, now, she is a better mum, a better business owner, a better member of the community and a better global citizen. She makes our world a better place because someone donated some dollars and cents, and the outcome is worth far more than the initial amount of money.

## Compound

I love a good spreadsheet. It helps me keep my life in order by tracking the important numbers. As a number gets changed in one cell, the total is impacted by the exact amount of that change. It is neat and tidy, and precise.

Not everything in life is measured by numbers. You can’t calculate the importance of a specific relationship that you have by allocating a number to it, or a regular activity that you are involved in, or even someone’s presence. Well, I guess you could try, but it would be completely arbitrary and cold. Much of our life is not neat and tidy, and most definitely not precise. (Which is bad news for my spreadsheet.)

Generosity is one such area. We can try and calculate the cost of giving money away in light of how much less we now have, compared to the tax deduction that it has given, but that is an arbitrary and cold process. That is not how generosity works.

Generosity is when you give something away, instead of seeing it as a financial loss for you and a financial gain for someone else, it becomes a compounding transaction creating a positive impact for everyone involved, those who are close to it and not involved, and those who hear about it later. It increases exponentially.

Generosity breeds generosity. It is not possible to run out if it. It is not a finite resource. It is one of a very few things that increase every time you use it. You will never reach the end of generosity because when you think you are there, you will discover more generosity.

Try it out. No spreadsheet required.

## How to Measure a Human

A good set of data is exciting to some people. They love it. Their life is a spreadsheet. They are the type of people that will say, ‘I’ve got a spreadsheet for that’.

I have said that.

I am one of those people.

I love the way that information and data points can give you an understanding of so many parts of our world and, if you can measure something you can improve it. But most of all because numbers tell a story.

But numbers never tell the whole story. How can we measure how good someone’s life is going to be by using numbers? Well, the United Nations is giving it a go. They have released the Human Capital Index. This little number measures a bucket load of data points in the lives of individuals and then ranks countries on what their quality of life is. Things like adult survival rate, probability of survival at age 5, expected school years and harmonized test scores (which is a way to understand student achievement on a global scale and not, as I thought, students around the world taking tests via the medium of song).

What do we learn from these numbers? Well, not a great deal that we didn’t already know. Sub-Saharan Africa are not doing that well, with Chad coming dead last, Australia is in the top 10, sitting at number 7, behind Ireland but ahead of Sweden (I’m not sure what to make of that).

What is surprising is that in first place is Singapore, just ahead of Korea. Both of which have incredibly high Harmonized Test Scores which is the difference between them and the rest of the top 10.

But I guess, after all is added up and calculated we can see that whilst things are indeed getting better, the majority of humanity is not living up to its potential because of poverty. Imagine all the things that we are missing out on, the people, the personalities, the ideas and creativity, the families, the stories – all because of a construct we created. We must end it and we must end it now. It won’t be ended by governments or massive corporations, it is going to be ended by every person doing their bit, and it can start here.

## Impact

Some things can be measured easily. When there are numerical values involved it is simple to compare. Like the size of your bank balance today compared to last week, you can tell the difference just by looking at it.

But measuring someone’s personal growth for example, when the indicators are not as tangible, and it requires some sort of gut feel, can be a little difficult.

It’s the same situation when we measure people’s journey out of poverty. Opportunity International provides small loans to mothers living in poverty and we measure the impact that has on the women and their family over time. The amount of money they earn is one indicator that can show they are leaving poverty behind, but there are so many other elements, like nutrition, sanitation, education, access to information and how hopeful they feel.

Some of this can be measured numerically, and some can’t. Not all elements improve at the same rate or at the same time, so how do you measure the impact?

Often it comes down to the individual. When they recognise they have the ability to make decisions on their own behalf, decisions that can change the lives of them and their families, this shows a level of empowerment which usually means that other elements are improving as well.

People are complex and cannot be measured by numerical values alone to discover what growth is happening.

How are you empowering those around you?