Standing In the Middle

For over 10 years now, my professional email has ended with this quote

Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.” – Galileo Galilei

I’m a computer geek by trade, and this suits my job description nicely. A large part of what I do hinges on my ability to find small bits of data, combine them so that they are less like a stack of numbers and more like information or insight; and finally to deliver that information to the right places so that it drives some kind of action.

So I was caught short when a co-worker sent me this counter-quote:

Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts.” – Albert Einstein

Equally valid, and equally applicable to my job. Not only does it entail finding bits of data, but knowing which ones are meaningful, and which are red herrings.

I realized I had stumbled upon the Information Technology version of an old Rabbinic idea: that you should keep two pieces of paper in your pockets. One reads

For my sake the world was created

…and the other:

I am naught but dust and ashes

Then you should take them out, read them, and take the message to heart – one note or the other as the situation dictates.

I’ve updated my personal email to use the Einstein quote. It’s a good reminder of who I “am” as I communicate with the outside world, and that my work may have it’s priorities but those aren’t the only priorities I have.

As the Rabbis knew long ago, it’s all about finding a point of balance.