In Part one of a two-part article, the authors discuss Enoughless and Enoughness, terms used in their book You Are Good Enough!
In researching our book You Are Good Enough! on the consequences many of us experience in our relentless pursuit of success, we believe that there are regrets that we experience as we reach a stage in our lives when we begin to look back on how we actually spent our time and energy, and many of us do so with a growing sense of regret rather than fulfilment. It is only then that we recognise the personal price we paid in our health, our relationships with others—especially family and missed opportunities for personal growth—that all of our “success” did not actually bring us the happiness and well-being we really wanted.
Top Five Regrets of the Successful
The top five regrets of successful people as compiled from hundreds of responses from around the world through our survey at www.stressofsuccess.com were uncannily similar to the top five regrets of the dying presented by Ms Bonnie Ware in her book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. 1 These are:
• I wish I had spent more quality time with family;
• I wish I had valued relationships over results;
• I wish I had taken care of my physical and psychological health;
• I wish I had the courage to be who I really am; and
• I wish I had found more meaning in my life.
I Will Get to It as Soon as I Am (More) Successful
These regrets are surprising because, unlike the regrets of the dying, these individuals have every opportunity to eliminate their list of regrets! What stops us from immediately acting on these priorities? The skewed definition of success—with so many of us running after more money, more possessions, more security, more status—and the belief that it will “someday” (that mythical day between Sunday and Monday) bring fulfilment and happiness has led us towards living a life away from the person we sense and feel we actually are deep in our hearts.
Almost anyone who is experiencing an intense and persistent need to succeed to the extent that it is costing them more in terms of their personal worth than in what their net worth delivers, is suffering from this relentless pursuit; and this eventually leads to the realisation that no matter how much I succeed, I still do not feel good enough about who I am as a person.
Enoughless is a term we devised to describe a pervasive, enduring, and corrosive sense of not feeling good enough, not feeling “up to the mark”, in a state of constantly comparing and feeling inferior to others or in relation to the expectation that one may have. It is a state of mind where one feels he or she must do more, be more, and possess more, much more.
At a personal level, Enoughless is a mental construct, a mindset, or a “schema”. It stimulates a compulsive “need to succeed” because it is activated by a hunger that cannot be completely satisfied by achieving more, winning more, and having more. The louder and more constant the voice of Enoughless, the greater the erosion of our vitality, positivity, creativity, and purpose. Forged in our childhood from painful, repetitive experiences of emotional hurt, unreasonable pressure and expectations, loss, neglect even abuse or abandonment, it often becomes activated when our sense of safety or need to be right is challenged.
The consequences of Enoughless, a form of opportunity cost when we deviate from who we really are, are enormous. They are prevalent, extensive, and often unseen until they manifest in our lives individually, with our families, in our work, and as a society. That is when we experience everything from disengagement, low morale, and reduced job productivity to declining health, negative emotions, and impaired relationships.
On a personal level, the progressive erosion of the Authentic Self leads to anxious fatigue, toxic negativity, mindlessness, and loss of purpose. At a macro level, for an organisation or a nation, the same need for more often lies beneath low productivity, high operational costs, “switched-off” employees or citizens, and unsustainable competitive advantage.
It is therefore incumbent upon each of us to confront our Enoughless. We must summon the courage to look at ourselves honestly to identify how, when, and where the Enoughless schema is activated within us. As we begin to discover and accept ourselves for who we really are, take personal ownership of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and express our authentic voice, only then will we undergo a powerful transformation; from the aching emptiness of Enoughless to the vitality of Enoughness.
1 Ware B. (2012). The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. Hay House, New York.
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