Not Enough Vs Too Much : Curiosity, Utility & Generosity

November 5, 2012 — by Nick Kellet0

Are you not enough? Or too much? It’s interesting to see how we value ourselves and how we think about being valuable to others. Can we rethink our current approach to being valued and being valuable. Can this lead to scalable social media strategies for Community Managers?

Never Enough

We live in a world where it’s easy to focus on what’s missing. We tend to focus on the undone. Never enough. Deficiency is abundant.

I’ve just been reading Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly.

It’s a great book and I highly recommend following her on twitter: @BreneBrown. A central theme of her work on vulnerability and shame research is that of feeling like we’re never enough. Never …

  • Good enough
  • Strong enough
  • Thin enough
  • Smart enough
  • Loved enough
  • Kind enough
  • Connected enough
  • Famous enough
  • Influential enough
  • Retweeted enough

We each have our own perceived deficiencies. We all face those feelings on a daily basis. We think we’re different, but we all face the same challenges, but with a different skin. What’s your blank in the “not <blank> enough” question?  What do you lack or seek?

Seth Godin nailed if for me in this post [1]. We are never done. We need to embrace the impossibility of completing all our tasks. Getting comfortable with not being enough is healthy. It’s a growth opportunity for all of us. There’s always more. We need to be able to sleep happy with our accomplishments each day. That’s a life skill worth learning.

Reading Seth made me feel normal. We don’t need to end each day with a reminder of non-accomplishment.

Seth is clearly thinking a lot about this theme. Here’s two more posts on this topic [2] [3].

So with all this talk on “not enough”, let’s flip things and focus on “too much”. There’s something cool about looking at the extremes of everything in life. I always find it rewarding to explore opposites. This simple trick has paid dividends for me time and again. Innovation comes from inverting and reversing the norm.

And the opposite of not enough is …

Too Much

What do people do that’s too much?

It’s easy to be:

  • Too talkative/energetic
  • Too loud
  • Too bitchy
  • Too in your face

Sharing is another example. You can certainly share things too much. You can talk about yourself too much. This is amplified when sharing is a proxy for talking about yourself.

Feel free to add to these examples. Actually I was thinking of something a little more positive.

What are the things in life that we can’t ever have too much of? 

Where in life is excess a positive thing?

Finding things that you can’t do too much is truly valuable. It is super simple when you run a team. These kinds of directives are easy to manage and execute.

Social Media is Too Subjective. 

Social Media is a learned skill. It’s easy to get it wrong. Be too something and not enough of something else. It’s so easy to over step the mark. Social media requires a lot judgment and experience. That’s why I like simple rules or guidelines. Thing’s that are good, that don’t break when you use them a lot are rare.

Here’s three things you can never do “too much” that can easily be taught/encouraged/managed:

  • Too generous
  • Too useful
  • Too curious

These topics for me really speak to the role of Community Management. These are three “too”s that you cannot max out on. The value of something like this, is that it’s easy to communicate. You can communicate a simple directive to be more generous, more useful, more curious. Do all of this and you can’t go wrong.

Can you be too Generous? 

My strong sense is no. Generosity is not about keeping score. True generosity is not about being recognized. Generosity is about thinking about the needs of others. You can be generous by simply asking “How can I help?”

Being generous creates more generosity. Generosity is infectious. Generosity is a mindset.

Most of all generosity is not about you.

Can you be too Useful?

Utility is about providing value.  Utility is not something that’s metered or wears out. A newspaper has utility today, so in that sense utility can wane, but tomorrow your newspaper will be useful again.

Google is as useful today as it will be tomorrow.

We can get bored of things. We can move from Google to Bing. We can move from Android to iPhone. Our phone and our search engine will always bring us utility, regardless of the flavour we choose. Their utility does not wane.

I believe we view that anything that’s useful can be made more useful. Google can improve as can an iPhone.

Utility is not a fad. To some extent that also defines what’s useful. So to be useful you need to think of things that have eternal value. Answering customer questions has eternal utility. Utility is big.

Can you be too Curious?

And as to curiosity… Can you ask too many questions? I say no. You can ask bad questions. You can ask questions that show your weren’t listening. You can ask questions in the wrong order. Can you ask too many questions. I say no.

There’s probably room for improvement in all three categories of Generosity, Utility and Curiosity.

We can get more effective and more targeted in our generosity. Can we give things/or time in a way that people feel are useful?

We can always be more useful. We can always do more with less. Utility is somehow a measure of effort relative to reward. That can always be honed.

It’s interesting that curiosity is the way to be more effectively generous. Equally, curiosity and questions are the route to increased utility.

So about you? What’s your experience with too much? Or are your more focussed on not enough?

Nick Kellet

Co-Founder at Listly
Nick is co-founder the social curation platform Listly, that combines crowdsourcing, content curation and embedable lists to drive high level community engagement right inside your blog posts. You can also find him on Twitter as @nickkellet

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