By Karen D. Swim
I have a strange relationship with numbers. I love the logic of numbers and can get infinitely lost in statistics and measurements. I also have an obsessive streak so numbers that tell an unflattering story can send me into a tailspin.
When you do business on the internet numbers play an important role in your business - page rankings, visitor stats, product sales, number of subscribers, traffic, conversions, etc. You can become lost tracking and measuring those numbers to unravel the answer to the question of “How am I doing?”
However, an over reliance on numbers can harm the way you do business and may even hinder your growth.
I used to weigh myself every day. The numbers were either a comfort or a curse, but they were black and white and required no interpretation. I became fixated on my daily obsession, the numbers the measurement of my ongoing efforts to remain fit and healthy.
As I progressed on my fitness journey, I decided to run a marathon. I had never been a runner and was not sure I even knew how, nevertheless I had made my decision. Numbers played a new role, pacing per mile, negative splits, mileage, finish times and more. I kept track of all my new numbers with charts, graphs, running logs and a runner’s watch.
Numbers also played heavily in my work life. I worked in sales and numbers meant everything. Quotas, profitability, rankings, and commissions were all part of the numbers game. I ran so many excel spreadsheets that I soon began to dream in grids and equations.
In every area of my life, I could measure my efforts by the numbers. Had I worked hard enough? Was I making smart choices? The numbers would tell me, or so I thought.
I have learned that the numbers provide data but the data is only one part of the story. Your finish time in a race is a snapshot of the ending but does not represent the journey that got you there, nor the next phase that lies ahead. I am learning to relax and trust my instincts sometimes in defiance of the number.
As a blogger I could drive myself insane with statistics. Who’s reading, how many are reading, who dropped off and why? Yet, if I am driven by numbers will I miss the opportunity to take risks and in doing so grow as a writer? Will I be so concerned with “image” that I will not allow my true voice to be heard?
Not every blog post will be a masterpiece. In fact, most will be ho-hum, some will be absolute garbage and once in awhile I will pen the near perfect piece. I cannot however, get to the great piece without simply writing and giving myself permission to fail.
In writing, running and life I am learning to enjoy each step that I take. I still review numbers and I continue to challenge myself to beat them but I no longer allow those numbers to hold power over me. I am quite happy to take one step at a time and focus on giving that step all that I have in that moment.
What about you? What role do the numbers play in your life?
Photo Credit: Brave Heart at Flickr
Thursday, March 20, 2008
By Karen D. Swim