In my last life, as part of the world of retail and commerce, every breath and every scintilla of an iota of anything was measured, assessed, judged and listed. League tables, charts, lines and the implicit status attached to those devices were a daily reality.
For example, we were set turnover targets (the volume level of sales) and cash targets (the levels of payments taken against orders made). Beyond that there were the good old Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which varied from business to business. On one hand, the business would be measured on its sales expressed in pounds per square foot of shop as a way of assessing the right product blend and placement. Alternatively, we could be measured on our UPT (units per transaction), ATV (average transaction value), gross and net margin per order or across the store, the penetration (in the flooring world) of underlay within sales, or else of the added extras like stain treatments or insurances. These KPIs would, by the manager, require driving and improving, and all the while,and the blessed chart or league would be the aide memoire in this. Not only would we fight against our own targets but be placed in direct competition with other stores so that you not only worked to exceed your targets, but that you were chart-topping types too. Lines, graphs and charts. Each measurable has its own chart, its own line, its own graph - and these would be expressed in terms of figures per week (WTD), per period - PTD (a given month), a quarter - QTD (a period of thirteen weeks), YTD (year to date) and LFL (like for like when compared to like periods a year prior). And so on ...
Fortunately, I seem to have been born with a mind that, in a Russell Crowe-esque kind of way, can determine patterns within numbers on an instinctive level without a calculator. Give me ten minutes in front of thirteen pages of reports and I would be able to tell you who, why and indeed when, the weak link was so that the Buzzards could descend and Performance Manage them out of existence.
Then I got myself ordained.
What you discover in the ordained life is that you are exactly the same person pre-collar. you bring your own autisms and gifts, your own baggage and silage. You think like you previously thought and see the world through the same eyes in the self-same way. The ontological change may well be internal, but it doesn't grant you an whole-body transfiguration. So, take a man whose world is bounded by KPIs and put him into a place without them, and see what happens (forgive the exclusive language, but I am (I think) male).
Curacy is a blessing because the boss in many ways replaces the edges formed by figure-work and the charts. Direction is given and feedback received and in the end, the week is completed. There is a due sense of achievement and of "hitting target" which is a compelling and positive feeling for those of us familiar with it. Such feelings are also addictive so that when one's curacy ends and we move to a place where there is a distinct lack of training-incumbent, the lack of edges and devices for measuring forms not freedom, but precipitous edges over which one could, and indeed does, fall.
The joys of priesthood are many and varied and I wouldn't do or be anywhere else. Sadly, it is entirely free of measurables except the pathological need to increase numbers of bums on pews. The other one is paying the bills, but that is about it. This is a world that for some would be refreshingly free and I can appreciate that, but for target-intuitive people, it means that there is no line to inform us when the job is (if ever) done. So, if you are like me, you carry on working, striving towards a line that will never appear, working towards a target that was never set. There be danger here. Some people need edges and some people need to have edges removed or lowered. I need edges and so wonder how I might find them.
Oddly, for one like me (and I am not alone), the pursuit of the ellusive target corrodes the one measurable that always gets corroded by people like me. Me. The measurable that is my health and well-being is sacrificed to the unmeasurable and non-quantifiable, and after a very positive ministerial review, have established my own self as a KPI in the little world of Cloake Priesthood and Ministry Plc. So, at 1.15pm on a Friday in September, I am going to stop work, have some lunch and do no more work today. I feel a slob-out session coming on.