Not everything that can be counted counts

May 9, 2018 Business , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER

José Martín Ramírez C photo



Siddhartha Rastogi



and not everything that counts can be counted



Many years ago, there lived a woodcutter in a small village. He was very poor with no land or resources. His children and wife had no food to eat and had to wear torn clothes. The woodcutter everyday prayed to the Almighty to improve his condition and to get sufficient money so that his family and he could live well, eat well and sustain a decent life.


One night when the woodcutter was sleeping, God came in his dreams. God told the woodcutter that listening to his woes, He is blessing him with an axe with which he can cut trees and that he would get a box full of gold coins under the trunk of every tree he cuts. God further said, ‘I am blessing you with a mirror; that mirror can tell you how rich or poor you are as compared to others. You have gone through the misery of poverty and helplessness and hence this mirror will aid you to help those who are poorer than you’. After stating these, God disappeared from the woodcutter’s dream.


In the morning, the woodcutter shared the dream with his family and his family shrugged it off as a mere dream and nothing else. A few days passed; there was no change in his situation. One day while cutting a tree, his axe broke and he didn’t have money to repair. Distressed and dejected he sat under the tree and all of a sudden he saw a mirror and a silver axe lying under another tree, opposite to where he was sitting. He remembered his dream and thought God had finally fulfilled his wish. The woodcutter went and picked up the axe and looked around if someone had forgotten the axe and the mirror in the woods. He waited and looked around but couldn’t find anyone.


He brought both axe and the mirror home and shared the events of the day with his family. The next day, he took the axe and went to cut the same tree where he broke his old axe. With a few blows of his new silver axe, the tree fell. He found a box full of gold coins as he had dreamt. He bought things, clothes and food for his family. Now he was getting richer by the day. As he started getting more boxes of coins, his greed started increasing. He wanted to know how many people were richer than him. The mirror kept giving him the numbers. He now started spending more time cutting the trees rather than taking care of the family or helping the poor. One night, dacoits came and killed the woodcutter and his family and took the entire gold and silver axe with them.



Human beings since birth are given this numerical milestone to achieve. It starts at home, where one sibling is pegged against others and compared in terms of marks, studies, behavior, better, inferior, etc. From the home, it moves to school, then to college and then to the work place. Barring defence services or some team plays, the concept of camaraderie is vanishing fast.


Parents expect their children to come first in class. For them, it does not matter how much he or she has grasped and how he or she will use it in life. Most sports are played to reach the number 1 position and the money tagged with that position without focusing on the joy of playing the sport. Only one of a million reach that position and the rest are made to feel lesser mortals, losers, less humans whichever name one can choose.



Everything in today’s world is evaluated in terms of 3 things:


How soon (in terms of age),


Personal networth (for individuals)


and market capitalization (for companies).



You keep running on this treadmill and one fine day when you near your retirement or burnout, whichever is earlier, you realize you are where you started from with only few more gold coins.


Unfortunately, the story of Investors and Investment specialists is the same as that of the woodcutter. Both keep chasing the numbers, the percentages and earnings on a month on month basis without realizing that it’s more important to have a sustained enriching and enthralling investment experience rather than an investment portfolio just depicting a percentage.


What counts in the investment process is the quality of the investment manager, his commitment to his philosophy and his ability to steer through tough periods and tough decisions without bringing in personal biases.


Do investors only care whether the portfolio is generating a 14.50% return, 16.85% return or something higher?


Imagine a meeting where an investment specialist learns something from the investor from his journey of life and implements it in his investment thesis. A day where the investor looks forward to meeting an investment specialist and treats him like a wholesome family advisor sharing his concerns and gets some ideas on resolving challenges which he or she is facing in his or her personal or business world.


Once the connect and the relationship between 2 human beings moves beyond numbers, which in this materialistic world represents money or the equivalent, it enhances the quality of life and augments the experience, which can’t be measured.


The irony of life is that all big decisions are based on emotions and feelings that can’t be counted. Whether it’s love, hate, affection, honor, courage, devotion, loyalty or anything else which humans decide, they accrue that decision on finite monetary terms which can be counted to put a façade to hide the real reason.


More often than not, when one says YES to anything, it’s based on sentiments, feelings which can’t be counted whilst to justify NO to oneself and to others, one uses counting and measurement tools.



Thus the Anagogic banker says: Focus on what is uncountable and things which can be counted automatically will become less significant.





Siddhartha Rastogi

Siddhartha Rastogi

Siddhartha was born to a learned middle class educated family in Semi Urban India. His father was an extremely honest man who because of his honesty had to pay the price in corporate world. Mother is a determined woman who ensured that children are being well taken care off. After a few years of birth, doctors called Siddhartha, a slow child having flat foot. He would fall more than he could walk. Determined mother ensured all therapies for her son to come out strong to fight the world. Siddhartha joined swimming when he was in 6th standard. Seeing other children of his class, he jumped in 10 feet deep pool and learnt swimming on his own, the very same day.

From that day there was no looking back. He topped his city in 12th and went to score highest in his B school exams. During his profession as banker, he became youngest branch manager of a MNC bank managing their biggest wealth branch in the country. There he found love of his life and got married. His love of his life emerged in the form of his daughter who completely changed him for good.

Siddhartha Rastogi is Director for a boutique Investment bank in India.

Siddhartha is a forward looking thinker & writer who has written a book on decision making. 8 Simple steps to effective decision making.

He writes on various social and current issues via his blog and can also be found on twitter.

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