Somebody wise once said that you measure what you value, and you value what you measure.

There is an old expression, originally used by dodgy backstreet London tailors: ‘Never mind the quality, feel the width’. It is the amount of material you’re getting that matters for the money, not the quality.

If you measure cloth by the yard, it’s the quantity you will value.

In economics and politics, the main measure of the success of an economy is Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In every budget as far back as you can see, the focus of the Chancellor is the forecasts for the increase in GDP over the coming period.

Let’s take a scenario. Suppose the Government reverses the ban on handguns and automatic weapons. Sales of guns massively increase. Once a neighbour starts walking around with a gun at their hip, so you feel you need to as well. Gun crime increases, so now owning a gun is seen as a necessity.

As a result, GDP will increase. Other indicators – crime and wellbeing spring particularly to mind – would reduce.

If we measure money, it means we value money. Instead, we should be measuring wellbeing, in its broadest terms. This is the work of the Centre for Thriving Places, for whom I was a director and trustee for several years.

Measure What We Value

At the heart of the books I write are ideas. The notion of personal destiny and meaning. Whether it is acceptable to do something extreme if the intention and outcome is good. I like my books to be about something.

Among other things, The Vanishing Point is about understanding what it is that we value and that matters most to us, away from all the distractions that the modern world throws at us.

Let’s leave the last word on this topic to Robert Kennedy from a speech he gave in 1968:

“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Written by : Chris Budd

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