The Tangibles as Yardsticks

One night, while the group was sitting on the dusty Vietnam ground, he heard an interesting perspective.

"I don't think that we're doing much. Look, we're basically doing stuff that they themselves are capable of doing."

"I agree. You know what? It might even be better if we didn't fly here, just to carry soil, bricks, tiles and such. We can save up the money and give it to the villagers instead."

The conversation carried on in this vein for some time. There was a palpable sense of discomfort, as they suspected that they had not achieved what they planned. A creeping sense of imminent failure, premonitive whispers.

He had been conflating self-worth with academic grades, time with money, energy with prestige.

Numbers - percentages, values, statistics, distributions - matter. They all mattered. They were the yardsticks with which others measured him against. They were the scales which he held and by which he judged himself.

And, in his mind's eye, he had fallen short.

It was inexorable, the way one got sucked into the system. A whirlpool, some quicksand. Periods of neglect, moments of not paying attention, and he would find himself marching in tandem to Singapore's frantic beat.

A quest to measure every dimension.

Source unknown

"You know what? I think that our problem, it lies with our attitude that we must measure our activities with numbers, with hours of effort put in. By any other intangible yardsticks, we have succeeded."