I am enough!
As a leader, would you ever tell your people they are “Already enough”? What would stop you saying that? Have you ever said to yourself, “I am enough”?
Doesn’t it amount to an admission of defeat? Isn’t it saying I can’t get any better? Where is the ambition in the word “enough”? It is surely the antithesis of everything we aspire to. To keep improving, to become more effective, to control, to perfect. To be perfect.
But, think again. We are a society riddled with uncertainty. As a result we battle against that uncertainty and it comes out as anger, as fear, and with bitterness. The more scared we get, the more certain we become in our beliefs. The angrier we get, because others just don’t get it, the more it results in increased frustration and fear. A vicious cycle of fear, anger and increasing uncertainty.The struggle to attain is driven by ever rising expectations. Expectations from where? From parents, from peers, from ourselves? The pressure to be the best you can be, to maximise your potential. They are well-meaning expressions, I find myself using them as self-motivators, what harm can they do? The trouble is, they don’t come with an instruction manual. No-one ever knows when the programme is complete. I ask my clients “How will you recognise when you have got there?”. Or, “How do you know you haven’t arrived there already?” Questions which are usually followed by a long period of silent reflection.
We now live in a society that has never been more medicated, particularly in the pursuit of so-called “mental health”. There is a growing belief that we can, and therefore should, control our emotions and anxieties (and if medication is what it takes then so be it!) to allow us to ‘keep functioning perfectly’. After all, why put up with the inconvenience of interference from these basic brain processes? The truth of the matter is, the race to perfection is one that none of us is capable of winning. We are wired for survival, which means we have a range of emotions which are necessary for living in an uncertain world. To have fears and anxieties is normal, indeed necessary, to function in a world that we cannot control. What is not necessary, and indeed unhelpful, is to pretend they don’t exist, or to believe we are in control of the world beyond our skin. This futile pursuit will only push more and more people beyond the edge, driving up our demand for ever more effective drugs.
I was inspired to address this subject in this post by the wonderful Brene Brown. See her TED talk here for a more comprehensive treatment of this subject.
Brene makes a number of powerful points about the power of connection. More than ever before, our world is crying out for true connections between people to help with some of the biggest challenges our planet has ever faced. We need creativity, problem solving and collaboration, activities that thrive when people adopt mindsets of vulnerability, imperfection, honesty and humbleness. Only then can we truly start to look outside, and listen completely to others in a way that is open and free from our own comparisons.
Are we capable of working from a place where we accept we are enough, to stop striving, stop being over-obsessed with ourselves, and stop seeking constant improvement and perfection? Are our leaders ready to take the brave step to tell people they are “already enough”, or are they too frightened that it will result in people taking their foot off the gas? If the courage doesn’t start with our leaders, who will make the change?
Being enough for ourselves, allows us to be more for other people, and it is from here that continuing and endless growth will spring.
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Excellent, thought-provoking post and superb subject focus for this time of year in particular! I loved the Brene Brown clip and really enjoyed her warmth, honesty and charm as a ‘magic pixie’!
Yes, she has a wonderfully charming way of making this all sound so obvious and straightforward. Glad you enjoyed.
Great insights. Perfection we can never reach. Connection we can acheive.
Love it Allen. So true. Pursuit of perfection is dangerous and destined to disappoint. Connecting is everything.
Perhaps the cartoon should read
“….. and felt the need to outshine them.”
Of course many real stars are not what we percieve them to be – veneer over reality.