The Abundance of Enough

Posted: March 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

“He who finds that enough is enough, will always have enough.” Lao Tzu

One word keeps popping into my mind lately: Enough.

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The excesses of the world, the constant bombardment of more, the obsession with growth.  It never seems like (for many of us) there’s enough.  And I think I’ve had enough of excess.

Can you ever have enough profit; customers; new products; leads; sales; people in your network?  It seems like we’re all being encouraged to be consistently in a state of “not enough”.

There is though, one state of “not enough” I’m a bit obsessed with being in; always having great books to read and insight to gain.  My own learning is, I heartily accept, never enough for me. I will always want to learn more.

Then there are people. I’ve realised an enough here. This was the slightly more troubling thing for me, though.  I like people, having them around, being able to help others and feel part of something with people.  

Anthropologist and social psychologist Robin Dunbar’s oft-quoted number of 150 people with whom you can have a stable relationship with, has always intrigued me.  In some ways, I think I’ve tried to disprove this a little (where I’m concerned of course, not the entire theory) yet I am now firmly of the opinion his theory isn’t just right, it’s better to have a lot less than this in your life at any one time.  A case of fewer, deeper connections and make sure there’s enough in those relationships for you and the people involved.

I read an article recently that may be familiar to many of us and it goes like this.


D was a highly regarded and very socially outgoing person.  He had a natural tendency to be both random and deliberate about who he connected to, spent time with and worked with.  He was often in demand, called upon and not short of people who wanted to “pick his brain”.

He was – in Adam Grant’s parlance – a Giver.  He met F through working with a client and she seemed like she was very similar.  Deeply philosophical in her way and he respected and admired that.  They didn’t so much join forces as held a curious and respectful approach towards each other.  S, T and M also appeared around this time and formed a friendship with F.  They all, in some way, got involved in D’s work.  D was generous – sharing time, opportunities and grew to enjoy having this small band around him.  

Then it changed.  Distance, coldness, aloof periods of silence.  The odd tone in emails that followed up on things and checked in on how people were.

They’d had enough of D it seemed.  They didn’t seem to like his way anymore and had a very odd approach to him when they appeared in person at events and gatherings.  So D backed away.  He confided in his good friend (who knew them all) and she couldn’t offer any explanation except on the face of it, it seemed like there was a clique formed and D wasn’t needed or felt appropriate to be part of that clique.

The story goes that D took a deep sense of personal reflection and realised something: he’d had enough.  Enough of people taking his openness, trust and generosity for granted.  And that he had enough people already in his life who deserved and respected him.  He didn’t waste time in pursuing any of the 4 others to find out what happened.

In the story, F is still odd with D – witnessed by the odd snarky comment on his blog.  S, T and M are completely silent (and not so tight with F anymore or perhaps even each other – D didn’t know and no longer cared).

Then it happened again.  With W and R.  Two friends, so D thought, who happily took and offered nothing in return except to form an alliance themselves and seemingly disregard D from that.  D did challenge W and R and they knew the error of their ways yet they’d let D down and he felt lost for a while because of it.

It seems then, that people can get enough from you and casually cast you aside, take you for granted or worse still, know something is wrong by you and do it anyway.

It was a mildly sad series of incidents but the conclusion in the article from D was that he had settled on enough.  He ALREADY had enough.  He wasn’t going to seek out any more of what he knew he already had. Sure others would come along, and D would inevitably give again and again.

D talks of his filtering mechanism now being more tuned.  He’s more cautious about who he spends time with – thinking “what’s the gain, what are they giving, what should I give to this and do I already have enough anyway?”.  He took to meditation and contemplation. He took to a slower lifestyle and a less abundant mindset.

It’s meant he’s declined, deferred, contemplated more.  He’s not so quick to accept everything and everyone and still maintained a non-cynical way about it.  He doesn’t distrust people, he’s come to realise that he knows when he already has enough.


It was his final conclusion that chimed with me.  I’ve often seen abundance – and therefore options and choice – as crucial factors in success.  I’m starting to recalibrate my thinking on this and thinking how much I already have: and it’s probable that I already have it.  So I have enough.

I see many of us having to take a stock take on our social networks and purge, cleanse and realign why we loved them so much in the first place but now we feel overwhelmed by them.

I see the growth in slow lifestyles; tiny living and less materialistic ways as a show of enough.  I have enough with less, I don’t need to clutter my life or ever pursue that bigger, better, bolder thing.

So I have had enough of thinking not enough. Very much in the spirit of Lao Tzu’s opening quote to this piece – “He who finds that enough is enough, will always have enough.”

Have you had enough and do you have enough?


  1. Perry, I wonder why it is that we have to own, covet or chase things — material or otherwise — until we reach a point in our lives where we say, “Enough is (truly) enough?” Imagine a world where we weren’t conditioned to believe that ‘money makes the world go round’ (and it poisons it at the same time). I think it’s great you’re raising this as a subject but I think it needs to be thought of at a macro level too. I’ve been banging on about the language of ‘growth’ for far too long and until we own up to our obsession, I don’t think much will change. Frankly, it sickens me in the sight of wanton destruction, inequality and greed that we think growth is the acceptable face of capitalism. So, yes, let’s have a manifesto of enough, but first let’s have the discussion about what truly is enough…money, growth and experiences. Blessings Julian

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