November, 14, 2021

Why do we need more than we need?

My grandfather taught me a lesson many, many years ago: Why do you need more than you need? You can want more than you need, but why do you need more than you need?

It’s a powerful question and it gets to the heart of something that I’ve been pondering a lot lately.

Another way to phrase the question is this: How much is enough?

Is it enough when we hit our goals – or do we have to go past it and ignore that the goal was achieved?

Is it enough when other people recognize our achievements – or must we ignore the praise and immediately seek to achieve more?

Is it enough when everything is locked in and under control – or do we stress in the knowledge that everything could change tomorrow?

Too many people define “enough” as some form of success, significance, or control. The problem with those definitions is that the more we chase after success, significance, and control, the more we become addicted to them. And then enough is never enough.

So, the real question is this: do we actually NEED success, significance, and control?

In her Ted talk-turned-book, Kelly McGonigal talked about how we experience stress when we feel meaningless, isolated, or inadequate. Half a century before McGonigal, David McClelland talked about how we all seem to need achievement, affiliation, and power. And roughly 3,000 years before either of these people, King Solomon talked about the drives for success, fame, and power (in Ecclesiates).

And he called all three “meaningless, like chasing after the wind.”

If you even half-believe that Solomon was the wisest human to have ever lived, it’s pretty damning to hear one of the most successful, famous, and powerful characters in recorded history call success, significance, and control (my terms) meaningless. As in, you and I don’t actually need them.

But if this is true, why then would anyone be stressed about them? Why would anyone shape their lives around pursuing something that would never be “enough?”

Why, indeed…

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Published by timohai

Father, widower, leader, sales enablement pro at Workday. *These are my personal views and do not officially represent Workday.

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