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Always Chasing Enough

There’s a story of two famous authors at the party of a billionaire.  While standing in the massive second home the first author began to tease the second author.  He asked him – “how does it feel that our host only yesterday may have made more money than your novel has earned in its entire history?”

The second author responded by saying “I’ve got something he can never have.”  The first author asked what that was. The response was “the knowledge that I’ve got enough.”

I read this story in the book Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday and the two authors are Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller.  For some reason the question of enough jumps out to me.  As Ryan mentions, often the word enough is used in a bad way.  But in reality, enough is a beautiful word.

His point is imagine your life if you have that sense of enough.  There is “No ceaseless wanting. No insecurity of comparison.”  How would you feel if you were truly satisfied with yourself and your work?  That’s a hell of a gift most people will never receive.

Wouldn’t it be simple if one could just declare they have had enough.  Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. Most of us have a desire for more and are always chasing enough.  Whether that is more money, more recognition, more winning, etc.  The trick is that what drives us to achieve these “mores” can prevent us from enjoying the same things we’ve worked so hard for.  I’m going to pick on physicians as there is an unwritten rule they must live the “physician lifestyle.”  This includes having the right house, kids in private schools, new cars, country club memberships, and more.   

Ryan uses the story of a hydra to illustrate his point.  If you aren’t careful, the creep of more, more, more can turn into this mythological creature. You achieve a more and then two more grow in its place. This can quickly happen if one is not able to appreciate how things are, particularly when that person has done so much.

So, what is the solution?   Unfortunately, I do not know.   Determining what is enough is something only you can answer. Is it a certain number in the bank? Or maybe how many people you supervise at work. Could it be setting the sales record at work?   

Just like my article some time ago on the four types of wealth, I hope you are able to identify what your personal enough is.  I certainly don’t wish for you to feel like Sisyphus who was always rolling that rock up a hill.