blog-numbersWere I to colour the picture of my year by numbers it would look something like this:
131 flights (45 international and 86 domestic). That equates to 24 days (a ‘day’ being 24 hours) of my year was spent in a plane and a further 8 days sitting in airports somewhere.
19 overseas trips to 11 countries
105 nights away from home of which 27 were spent ‘sleeping’ in planes
82 presentations / workshops involving some 5330 people comprising 66 cultures
1 (co-authored) book published; 22 published articles and 60 blogs …
Of course there are multiple other facets of 2015 that could be shaped into numbers – airplane meals consumed, hired cars, movies watched, books read, kilometres run and so the potential list goes on and on.
But numbers don’t tell the full story.
They don’t capture the multiple conversations with friends and strangers alike, the serendipitous moments that surprise and delight; the pauses; the unexpected insights and ‘a-ha’ moments; the tears and laughter; the anxieties; the concerns and fears; the moments taken for granted and the times lived at full-throttle.
Numbers can’t express the parting of a loved one or the beginning – or end of a friendship; watching a child play or sitting beside a hospital bed; taking in a sunset or swimming in the ocean; savouring a meal with friends or one eaten beside strangers. Numbers can’t capture the jadedness that stalks travel nor the exhilaration of flying above the clouds; Numbers don’t capture the sense of purpose that directs activity and the satisfaction of a job well done; the understanding of a concept or the sharing an idea. Numbers can’t describe sensing God’s presence or feeling His or Her absence. Numbers don’t capture what it is like to be trusted, to have responsibility or experience being loved. Numbers don’t reveal the kaleidoscope of emotions and cacophony of expressions that make up our lives.
No, numbers don’t tell the full story. In fact they tell very little of the full story of our lives and yet, we put so much weighting to ‘the numbers.’
Well, certainly that is the case when it comes to business.
When it comes to business numbers rule – they are the yardsticks by which we measure…everything. And yet, as in life, they really only represent a small part of our business. Life cannot be measured by numbers and perhaps nor should business.
Numbers are merely the signposts to the stories, to the things that matter most; they serve as the markers to the pathway that can be either rough or smooth, uphill or downhill, wide or narrow, straight or twisty. They can shed light on some of the steps along the way but never illuminate the complete journey travelled.
We shouldn’t live by numbers but neither should we ignore them entirely. Numbers do matter but stories matter more. Of course, for some their numbers are their story – but I suspect that is not how it is meant to be.
And so, as with every past year lived, it will be the stories that survive and remain from my 2015 – not the numbers. And I suspect that is how it should be.
What has been the story of your 2015? Constructing the ‘numbers’ might be a helpful way to start but be sure not to stop there – the numbers, your numbers are the invitation to further and deeper reflection. They are merely the signposts to something more!
So before the year is run, take the opportunity to go beyond the numbers of your 2015. Take some time to remember, to reacquaint and perhaps discover what it is that you have encountered as you have travelled this pathway. And as you do so, remember that whatever the picture of your 2015, it is one that you will live from as you explore the pathway signposted 2016.
Safe travel.

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