Quantity vs. Quality

April 28, 2012


Quality outweighs Quantity

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.

Catherine SaarNo Gravatar April 29, 2012 at 7:32 am

Thanks Jessica. You articulated beautifully some of what I had been feeling, but couldn’t name.

Jessica StewardNo Gravatar April 29, 2012 at 9:56 am

Hi Catherine – thanks so much for your comment. It had bothered me for a long time and it wasn’t until I saw the film “I Am” last summer that it finally occurred to me what was going on!

Deb DrozNo Gravatar April 29, 2012 at 8:31 am

Spot on! Thank you for writing about this…it’s good to see some words put about energy that can be tricky to spot or understand – yet easily caught up in to the point of ‘ick,’ which can happen quicker than you think and very innocently!

Jessica StewardNo Gravatar April 29, 2012 at 9:56 am

Thanks, Deb! It can be a very insidious energy for sure.

MarynaNo Gravatar April 29, 2012 at 9:48 am

Thanks for this post, Jessica.

You’ve expressed so eloquently, something that I’ve been trying to put my finger on for the past few months. Though my situation is a little different, that theme of “masks” and how uncomfortable they make me feel, has been surfacing for me. So much to think about here… Thank You!!

Jessica StewardNo Gravatar April 29, 2012 at 9:57 am

Thanks, Maryna! The masks we wear are closely related to the way we believe we need to show up in this world to be accepted… I say rip ‘em off! xoxox

Beth HermanNo Gravatar April 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Jess, I struggle with issues of scarcity, competition and abundance. Shortly put, I was raised by wolves. Starting to trust and love enough to recognize this ick factor you mention, and to want no part of it. We can’t control our past and our roots, but we can learn to supercede them. Sending appreciation and love. EBH

Jessica StewardNo Gravatar April 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Thank you so much for commenting, Beth. I will tell you that this is an issue I too struggled with having worked in a corporate environment for a long time and not feeling okay with quantitative measures as an indicator for success. When we start by taking the time to define – without prejudice – our indicators for personal and professional success and what “enough” looks like, then it’s so much easier to look towards the horizon of hope and see a landscape of possibility! Peace to you, my friend.

MonicaNo Gravatar April 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Thank you Jessica. So well said…I have experienced this so much in the corporate business world and have felt some fear of “falling into the trap” of it in my new coaching world. Your post will help me as I move forward thru this new experience in my life

Jessica StewardNo Gravatar April 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm

My internal conflict with quantitative measures of success started during my career in the corporate world. Watching good, strong, valuable resources walk out the door quarter after quarter because the numbers didn’t meet expectations was devastating. It’s only after I became a coach and gained so much more internal peace with my worth that I recognized how backwards it all is! Please don’t hesitate to email if you find yourself at a crossroads in your journey and need a gentle nudge. :-) Blessings to you.

Houkje RossNo Gravatar April 30, 2012 at 10:01 am

Thank you for writing this, Jessica. I often get lost in bigger groups (which for me is anything over a handful of people).

Jessica StewardNo Gravatar April 30, 2012 at 11:04 am

Hi Houkje – So many empaths get overwhelmed by larger volumes of people clamoring to be heard. The simple reality is that you don’t need to participate in a big group to make a big impact in the world, especially when you stay true to your passion and consistently show up and share your message from a clean (quiet?) place of clarity and integrity that feels good for you! So glad for you! xoxo

Jill FarmerNo Gravatar April 30, 2012 at 10:14 am

Wow! So beautifully articulated. Those darn scarcity thoughts do such a good job of masquerading as “realism” is my life. In reality, they are just fear based bars of my self-imposed prison. I can turn around and walk out…. when I connect to the abundance. Bravo!

Jessica StewardNo Gravatar April 30, 2012 at 11:22 am

Hi Jill! Totally! The reality is there is plenty for you and it starts by taking a good look at how you define success and then aligning yourself with the people and activities that help you achieve that success. I love money, don’t get me wrong, but I know I am far more likely to prosper when I hang out with those that live in collaborative abundance vs. competitive scarcity. I’ve found my people also tend to be the most quantitatively and qualitatively successful! AND their energy feels so much yummier and nurturing. Free yourself! xoxo

Katie McClainNo Gravatar April 30, 2012 at 10:24 am

Hi Jessica- I’ve been in this weird place lately and feeling like my work has turned to “work” and not fun. The spark and excitement had left. Very sad since I love what I do. I investigated what was happening with myself and found that I had turned coaching success (what I perceived as lack of success really) into meaning that I am not worthy. Yuck. Really glad I uncovered that for myself and I enjoyed reading your post, because it helps me with another level of awareness. Thank you.

Jessica StewardNo Gravatar April 30, 2012 at 11:31 am

Hi Katie! It sounds like you had lost sight of your true definition of success and the qualities that guide you towards that place of abundance. It’s easy to do when we are unconsciously steeping ourselves in the energy of scarcity. I’m so glad you realized the root of your feelings and realized that you are totally worthy! When you are having fun and in a playful space of collaboration and the energy of “plenty”, it’s incredible what takes root and blooms… YOU! Big love to you (and Princess Dobby)! :-)

AllisonNo Gravatar April 30, 2012 at 11:13 am

Love it!! I often feel “icky” in networking and/or corporate environments. I always say it’s because “I don’t do fake”. You articulated it perfectly. Thanks! :)

Jessica StewardNo Gravatar April 30, 2012 at 11:39 am

Hi Allison – I remember reading a blog by Martha Beck one time when she talks about “The Team” – the collection of people who are feeling a persistent call to help heal the world – and one of the qualities of “The Team” was that you “hate small talk, but find that large talk is not encouraged.” That one so resonated with me for that very reason – I not only don’t do “fake” but I don’t do “Chicken Little” talk. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. “My fave VA” indeed. ;-)

AmyNo Gravatar April 30, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Jessica, Thanks so much for this. It really got me thinking. I realized that the behavior you are describing is one of the reasons I “hide” and shut down when it comes to any sort of working environment. I’m not aggressive or competitive by nature and so when others are, I intuitively know I can’t compete so I don’t. I worked in the corporate world (many moons ago) and I never felt “successful” because I didn’t have the savvy to play those games. I would share information and help people because I love to collaborate, only to find them stepping on me as they scaled the corporate ladder – yikes! Makes me look at things from a whole new perspective – thank you! I so appreciate your insightful words.

Jessica StewardNo Gravatar April 30, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Thanks so much for sharing, Amy! Isn’t it great to know that you don’t have to compete to be successful? Just show up and do what you do best with integrity intact! xoxo

Jennifer VossNo Gravatar May 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Bravo. Bravo. Bravo.
And Amen.
: )
xoxoxo to you!

Jessica StewardNo Gravatar May 12, 2012 at 7:03 am

Thank you! Xoxoxo

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