Even though for many years I’ve held the mantra “No striving, driving, or pushing” and I truly feel the relief and freedom in claiming that, inside I still secretly berate myself for not being ambitious enough. When I meet people who are DOING so many great things - big things that are changing the world, I unwittingly compare myself and come up short. Even when I'm choosing to not do too much! Even when I'm happy with life as it is and not looking to grow or do more...
I am reminded of my friend, Steve Aman’s question to me on the last day of Leadershape - a grueling few days in the Adirondacks challenging ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally in an arena that was not my strength. There had been things I had opted out of (and then reluctantly and with a ton of support tried again). There had been things that terrified me, things that amused me, things I was willing enough to try and others that were an absolute “Oh, hell no!”
I was not going to scale a telephone pole, somehow find a way to stand on top of it and throw myself into space toward some acrobat bar. I was not going to blindfold myself and walk forward (or backward as some did) on the high beam or across the broken swing bridge. I did get myself to the wire and across it. I did pair up with Michael and do the “Wild Woozy,” leaning into each other’s hands as we traversed wires that slowly drifted further and further apart so that the only thing holding us up was our weight leaning into each other’s hands. And I DID rappel off the 80’ cliff (or 800’ - I honestly don’t remember! I only knew it was a BIG number that terrified me), even after watching some pretty skillful people get caught upside down for a bit.
So, on this last day there - a day designed for “play,” my dear friend Steve asked me, “Do you have anything left to prove?” The answer was clear. No, I did not… “Then go have fun,” he grinned and sent me on my way. I could watch others perform their feats and cheer them on, but I had done enough. I’d do the swing and scream my primal scream ‘cause that looked kind of fun… but, other than that, I was good.
So, in life. How do we know when we’ve done enough? How do we reach a point of nothing more to prove? Is it measured by a certain income or amount in our bank account or retirement fund? Does it come from winning a certain award or working your way up to a particular title? Is it the number of hours you work or the number of people you’ve served or the number of likes or views on your Instagram post? Giving a TEDx talk? Does it come after we’ve finally done or created “the thing?” We’ve written the book, created the program, given the talk, taught at THE place in THE room or on THE stage we’ve been aiming for… is that enough?
It doesn’t seem it. More often than not, people seem to turn around and start striving again for the next thing. Sometimes they barely even acknowledge that accomplishment (no matter how huge) before shooting for the next.
I’d like to share a little reflection I wrote about “Enough,” rising out of a beautiful conversation with my friend, Sharon Rosen, who told me of a beautiful Hebrew word, dayenu. As Sharon explained it to me, dayenu means “it would have been enough.” What a concept. Something to rest into. The way I want to live - so that when I die, I truly can feel “it was enough.”
by Barb Klein
If I only did well with my own family, it would be enough.
If I only wrote this book for me, it would be enough.
If I’d only ever done what I’ve already done, it would have been enough.
If I could remember and believe this, I would believe I have nothing left to prove. Nothing at all…
I am enough. Exactly as I am. What I’ve done - is enough.
Can I lean into my own enoughness? Can I embrace it and simply live the rest of my life for me, tending to me? Trusting that that will allow me to show up for others as a way that feels good, fills me, isn’t like the way anyone else is doing it?
Can I let go of ideas of how things should go and allow them to unfold?
Can I allow myself to be supported?
Can I be willing to ask for opportunities and for help to find these opportunities?
Focus on my own healing, growth, creativity, and let it lead where it may (or not).
It is enough.
It will have been enough.
I feel the deep contentment in that.
It’s time to heal - to release all the grief I carry - to breathe in the pines. To listen to the wind - to feel the breeze.
Let go the rushing.
Let go the frenzy.
Let them have their fun - their antics - their way.
You have yours and it is not theirs, most certainly.
You, my beloved, are enough, just as you are.
If I never lost another pound,
built another muscle,
or walked another mile,
It would be enough.
Nothing to push for, strive for, or drive for!
Those days are behind me.
There’s no goal I can achieve
that will make me any more me.
And that’s all I long to be -
Fully, wholeheartedly me!
We are such fascinating creatures with our stories of “I’m not enough! I’m too much! I have to do more! I have to keep going, doing, achieving, proving…” Is any of it true? Worth checking in on! We are each whole, complete, and completely worthy just by being. Our worth is not determined by anything outside of ourselves. And we are the only ones who can decide for ourselves how much we want to do, how much we need to create, how much we need to serve, and what is enough.
I invite you to check out Jen Louden’s wisdom on the Conditions of Enoughness and see how you might apply this in your own life. YOU get to decide. You get to define what is enough for you, based on your very real life. You get to choose to lighten up a bit on yourself. And to keep practicing, over and over, because this too, is a practice. I’m working on it.
Where can you lower the bar for yourself rather than continually raising it, raising it, raising it? What can you rest into as “exactly enough?” What are you striving for that you can relax about, let go of? We are so hard on ourselves and so easily judgmental of what we have or haven’t done.
Just for today… be gentle with yourself. Just for today… let it be enough. Whatever “it” is.