Does the Number Need to Go Up?

It’s nice if you have grown your Twitter account to a million followers, Seth Godin said in an interview years ago, “but what is it for? Can you eat more fancy restaurant dinners? Will it get you an even better table than you have now?”

But what if you couldn’t see your number of followers? “If the number was just hidden from the universe, you couldn’t make the number go up. But just because you can see the number, is this something that we need to go up?”

Former consultant turned independent writer and creator Paul Millerd is familiar with this dilemma. In his book The Pathless Path, he writes: “I spent ten years on a path where making numbers go up was always the way forward. Now I’m on a path where that is one option of many.”

I, too, spent most of 2023 trying to make a number go up: the monthly visitor counter on Four Minute Books. That worked, didn’t work, then really worked until it really didn’t.

This year, I, too, am realizing that that was only one option of many. Since I’m not busy cranking out content, I can make the site easier to navigate. I can improve the product for new and existing customers. With some luck, I’ll even be able to do a complete visual overhaul.

Will these things make the number go up? I have no idea — but even if they don’t, the traffic going up is only one of many good things that could happen.

As soon as there’s a number, it’s easy to default into trying to increase it. Resist. Math is useful but counting is trivial — and we all know that the most important things in life can rarely be counted.