When we measure success by what we don't really need, we will not ever feel successful. Basecamp's Jason Fried does "enough" instead. No long hours at work, big goals. A focus on six-week projects, enough to get anything substantial done. No big roadmap. "Goals and metrics are made up targets," he says in an interview with Shane Parrish. "If you don’t hit them, you’re bound to be disappointed. And then when you hit a goal, the excitement only lasts for a day, and then you move on to setting another one. It just results in a perpetual state of stress. How about not setting goals at all and just trying to do the best you can?”
The tiny heart of a hummingbird can reach up to 1,260 beats per minute. Just to keep its heart going, the hummingbird requires an enormous amount of calories. Its metabolism cannot keep up. The creature is in a near continuous state of starvation, on the brink of exhaustion, and never far removed from death. I was once at a retreat center in the New Mexico mountains. Its porch featured a feeding station for the area's hummingbirds. Well-intended. But the food consisted of concentrated sugar water, easy and addictive calories. The birds seemed perpetually frenzied, stressed, aggressive. They had no use for sugar water, yet craved it. Never enough.
The heart of a human being averages 60 to 100 heart beats per minute. We have the ability to slow it down (Especially during New Mexico retreats.). There is nothing more precious than knowing the truth of the beating heart, its dreams, its wisdom, its self-regulating powers. But one day, our heart will stop beating. We do not know when the last beat will occur. Death is certain. Was life enough or not enough?
Here is the thing: Collectively, we experience an exhaustion that is not so different from the starving hummingbird's. We are overwhelmed by our daily effort to measure and keep up. We feel a step behind the second we check our smartphones in the mornings. You feel the fear of missing out (FOMA) the minute you scan the papers or chat with friends. New gadgets, shoes, the hippest foods and destinations, the best parties. Starved, we keep on hunting for more and better, forgetting that our hearts beat to their own rhythms. Until hearts stop.
Obscured in its clarity by our brain's default mode (which wants us to believe that we are still fighting for survival in some forlorn wilderness), our mind has us in a constant state of worry about deficiency. We live in fear of lack. From a toy gone missing when we were children to losing money in the stock exchange. From a school grade that is not an A to the terror of public speaking, we are afraid. It's never enough. Things can run out. Someone may steal. To compensate, we hoard and crave. We think that bigger profit, geekier apps, new love partners, new cars and re-envisioned futures will make us happy. They don't. Toto, we are not in the jungle anymore. We cannot ever get enough of that what we do not really need.
When we measure success by things we do not really need, we will not ever feel successful. The Basecamp approach is a rebel response. Sane. An invitation then: How about measuring success by curiosity, intentionality, a small committed step taken into the unknown, knowing you may fail, and knowing it was a creation for good? By evaluating and learning from that step, celebrating it (yes, laughter too!), and beginning again? How about measuring success by an inner sense of contentment? Alive, aware, enough. Connected.
The word 'enough' literally means "attained together," sufficient for the purpose. You can sense a containment andcontentment in this word. A wholeness. "Perhaps the most important sentence I've ever written is that one word 'Enough'," writes Palmer Parker, who has written ten books and hundreds of essays, "that word can safeguard the soul." To say 'enough,' is not risky. We won't starve. When we say enough, we can, in fact, be reckless with the heart. We'll have enough heartbeats, no regrets. That's abundance, perhaps.
Thank you as always for reading. Not subscribed? Just click the button below. And if you are a big Yes to exploring the abundance of enough - with relief and wildly beating heart - contact me for a deeper conversation. Thank you, Sophia.