Recently I made the tough decision to leave a networking group for coaching professionals. The problem was that every time I participated in the group, I felt overwhelmed by a very serious “ick” factor. I couldn’t really put a finger on it, though. All I knew was that when I joined in on conversations, I was completely overwhelmed by a sludge of bad feelings. It didn’t make sense to my logical mind – shouldn’t a group of well-intentioned people coming together to help “save the world” be better when it’s bigger? Isn’t there power in numbers? What was wrong with me that I couldn’t experience a good feeling from a collective group of individuals working, collaborating, and sharing in this space?
When I felt inside the feeling of “ick” what it told me is that there is a very fine line between the energy of abundance and the energy of scarcity. In fact, I’ve noticed a distinct divide between these two factions: those who believe there is plenty and those who don’t (but pretend they do). The energy of those who subscribe to the belief that there is plenty for everyone and that we are truly stronger together is quite different from those for whom it’s “every man for himself” or “survival of the fittest”.
The challenge is that in the world of healers – including coaches, therapists, counselors, and energy workers – our logical minds and our energetic beings are not always in alignment. We use what we believe we should be feeling as “enlightened beings” to put forth our mask to the world. We pretend to believe in abundance and the notion that there is plenty for everyone, even when everything we do for our lives and businesses speaks to the contrary. Underneath these masks, the reality is startling…
One group has arms flung wide, welcoming whatever may come. The other holds tight to whatever it owns, grabbing up whatever comes within arm’s reach.
One plants the seeds and harvests what they’ve sown. The other forages and hunts for what already exists.
One collaborates. One competes.
One inspires. One manipulates.
One speaks with reverence about what they love, while the other sells.
What is the difference between “quality” versus “quantity”?
Quality is a characteristic.
Quantity is a measure.
Quality is about integrity.
Quantity is about accumulation.
Quality is a reflection of your values. And so is quantity.
In truth, quantity is not bad in itself. There is power in numbers, and when you balance volume with an unwavering regard for quality – be it for your life or the services or products you offer – you can achieve far reaching change and success for yourself and for those you serve. But if you don’t have a common set of criteria that vets on quality first, what you ultimately amass is not always of a high standard and can actually be counterproductive to your goal. This is what I saw in this network of fellow coaches.
Ultimately, as this group grew, it ended up with a mixed bag of professionals that fall into two categories, broadly speaking: those who “walk the talk” as healers and were simply looking for support and collaboration, versus those who don’t “walk the talk” and were looking for something else entirely. Some came in with their masks only to spread their shitty beliefs about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur, or to hawk their wares to a captive audience. Some came because they believed that is what they should do to succeed in business. And some weren’t even sure how they got there at all. With this vast and divergent cast of characters, what I realized was that the criteria to belong to this group were too broad, the integrity of the group too compromised. The divide between the factions of “abundance” vs. “scarcity” was – for me – too great.
When we base our success as an entrepreneur merely on quantity, we will do whatever it takes to create “more”, regardless of the effect it has on our quality of life or the integrity of our business. But when we grow our businesses with a passion for providing quality goods or services to our tribe, then it become nearly impossible to compromise our integrity in order to amass wealth at the expense of those we are here to serve. When we set a standard, we hold ourselves accountable to it, regardless of whether we achieve that standard.
Perhaps the trouble begins in our definition of success – and ultimately abundance – and our tendency to (falsely) equate it with monetary wealth. Typically, an entrepreneur marks success by quantitative indicators such as email list size, market share, profitability, click-through rates, how many twitter followers we have or Facebook friends we’ve accumulated – and how that will convert to cash. That becomes her limited definition of “abundance”.
As author Alan Cohen writes, “Abundance is not a number or acquisition. It is the simple recognition of enoughness.” If we focus on amassing a quantity of clients to produce more monetary wealth, without taking the time to define what quality looks like for our business or what true abundance feels like in our lives, how will we ever recognize when enough is enough?
Postscript: I wrote this prior to the scandal at the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The Komen Foundation is a perfect example of what happens when an organization loses their bottom-line focus on delivering quality services and instead creates programs and hires executives that focus on numbers-driven goals. Because they have been systematically focusing on quantitative growth over quality care, they have ultimately compromised their organizational integrity, putting women’s health behind the self-serving interests of their big-dollar sponsors and politically-driven donors.