There’s a great cafe in East Melbourne where you can order half a sandwich. This addition to the menu seems trivial, but it tells us a lot about the values of the cafe owner. He knows that a peckish diner will order the whole sandwich and leave what she doesn’t want. Of course, this would generate more revenue for his business, but also waste food and sometimes induce guilt in his customer. This generous posture that gives rise to the half portion gesture doesn’t go unnoticed. The cafe hums with regular customers and benefits from repeat business, goodwill and word of mouth.
It’s tempting to squeeze out every dollar, fill every moment and exploit every advantage, but there’s usually an opportunity cost to doing so—a compromise that needs to be made as a result. In our drive to maximise efficiency, profits and productivity we often miss the chance to do what’s right, to notice significant details or to amplify the thing we do well.
Maximizing can lead us to focus on short-term gains instead of a vision for the future or to sacrifice what’s important for the sake of growth. More and better are not always an indication of having achieved the right outcome. The strategy of ‘enough’ can allow us to focus and flourish. In the end, it’s not possible to go in every direction. We have to choose the path worth taking and then decide how to show up on it.
Image by Postcards Inside.