I’ve been reflecting on the idea of ‘enough’.


I was first inspired by the idea of enough by the British philosopher, writer and management guru Charles Handy. Both he and his wife, a photographer, were self-employed. At the beginning of every year they would sit down and work out what enough was for them. Enough money. Enough time. Enough travel. Enough people. Enough relationships. And so on.


As the year unfolded, when they reached ‘enough’ of whatever it was, they’d stop working to get more. So when they’d booked enough work to reach their income targets, they’d tell prospective clients that they were full for the year. No more, thanks.


They knew what enough was, and they knew when to stop when they’d reached it.


I love this idea. I think developing the ability to know what enough is, and to act on that knowledge, is one of the great life and leadership skills. 


Here’s the thing: less is most likely more than enough. After a certain point, you’re chasing diminishing returns. Good writers, artists and musicians know this. I suspect many of us don’t.


I used to run full day leadership development workshops. I’d prepare with heaps of content to cover and never get through it all. By the end of a long day, both the participants and I would be exhausted.


These days, I’ve been experimenting with a different format. I still ask participants to keep the day clear. Yet I now finish the ‘formal’ part of the day at lunchtime, and encourage them to use the free space in the afternoon to simply go for a walk, reflect or do whatever they think will serve them and their development. I aim to provide enough content and structure to stimulate thinking, and then let them choose what they need. They love it, and it takes the pressure off me to deliver stuff that was never really going to land anyway.


What drives us to reach for more than enough? That’s a complex question, yet I think at the root of it is fear. Fear of scarcity. Fear of appearing incompetent. Fear of disapproval. Fear of losing control. And so on. Yet as I suspect we know, the cost of driving for more than enough can be high for us and those we serve.


Here are four things I know to be true for me when it comes to choosing enough over more:


  1. Define enough. Start by deciding what’s enough. After meeting with new prospective clients, I used to write fancy long proposals. One day, I asked a client ‘what do you need from me now?’ ‘Oh, just a short email with the cost and when you can start will be fine’. Define what’s enough.
  2. Be in service. Know that people have full lives and full minds. They probably don’t need a lot more stuff. Just give them something that makes it easier to get what they need.
  3. Play a long game. You don’t need it all today. Like all performers, allow space for you and your team for intermission, half-time breaks and resets.
  4. Back yourself. When you’re grounded in the deep knowledge that you are enough, you can breathe out. When you’re grounded in the deep knowledge that you can create more of what you want and need, you can rest easy.


Develop the art of practising enough. And watch yourself and those you lead breathe out.



Last week’s post on Deliberate Reinvention – the idea of deliberately taking time out to reinvent yourself – received a lot of comments. Here’s one that particularly resonated with me that I thought you might like too:


Hi Digby. I can relate to this one! 🙂 So glad I jumped ship, I moved from feeling unvalued at work, to resigning and being jobless, to getting a new role in one week and now they’ve asked me to be Head of Engagement. A promotion I waited for at my old employer for over two years!! And the best thing is I get to work from home, see more of my children, save money on transport and childcare, and earn far more than I was doing four months ago!


Happy days 🙂




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