Bare Adequacy

Several years ago I read a book by Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi entitled, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. I found it to be a fascinating work on the meeting place of productivity and happiness. A major premise of the book is that there are a whole lot of people who are productive but not happy, and vice versa.

One particular point the author made has stuck with me; to this day I think of it often. He stated that one aspect of finding the blend between success and happiness is a trait that he calls “Bare Adequacy”. Paraphrasing, this would suggest that I’m good at what I do, but not that good.

I’ve translated this concept into my own language as follows:

I’m good at what I do, and people appreciate that. But I am one step away from being irrelevant and tired to the people I work with, and so I must constantly push to renew, re-create, and re-invent. The strategies I teach must be fresh, and that is a constant challenge. I am adequate, but barely. I had best make sure I am striving to stay ahead of failure.

This concept applies to everyone, but let me speak in particular to the veterans out there. If you’ve lost the joy of a business you have always loved, it might stem from a lack of a sense of ‘bare adequacy’. It might mean that you have reached a plateau and you need to push yourself to entirely new levels.

Let’s look at it this way: you might be completely adequate for a strong market, but that would make you an incomplete sales professional. Perhaps you need to re-think your sense of adequacy for a tough market, where the buyer psychology changes dramatically, where macro-economic shifts effect every single transaction, and where the sale is made in the tiniest corners of the sales process.

Figure it out, and you’ll change the world!


And yes, you’ll notice something new this week – the opportunity for you to comment on this article. We’ve (finally) introduced a chance for you to sound off in the form of a blog. Don’t be bashful – join in! Let’s make this a community for the thousands of people who read the Shore Thing every week.

I’ll make it easy for you. All you need to do is write a sentence or two (or more, if you like) on the following questions:

Do you struggle with ‘plateaus’ in your own performance? What have you done to deal with those times?
• Why do salespeople get complacent? What do you do to knock yourself out of a complacent mindset?
• How would developing a sense of “bare adequacy” help you to be the best you can be?

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About the Author: Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore is the Founder and President of Shore Consulting, Inc. a company specializing in field-tested and proven consumer psychology-based sales training programs.

Jeff is a top-selling author, host of the popular sales podcast, The Buyer’s Mind, and an award-winning keynote speaker. He holds the prestigious Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association and is a member of the NSA’s exclusive Million Dollar Speaker’s Group.

With over 30 years of real-world, frontline experience, Jeff’s advanced sales strategies spring from extensive research into the psychology of buying and selling. He teaches salespeople how to climb inside the mind of their customers to sell the way their buyers want to buy. Using these modern, game-changing techniques, Jeff Shore’s clients generated over $30 billion in sales last year.