Sufficiency

This is the first in a series of newsletters that explore the following four lines:

  • Sufficiency leads to integrity.
  • Integrity leads to responsibility.
  • Responsibility leads to right relationship.
  • Right relationship leads to sufficiency.
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Sufficiency  is that unbeatable combination of your unique gifts, talents, character qualities, aptitudes, knowledge, skills and other "hidden resources." These hidden resources only appear in the face of a challenge.

As well, adults must remind themselves that in order to meet life's challenges and transitions — work, relationships, health, finances and identity — we must stand in our sufficiency. When we meet life from sufficiency over fear, we fund the fortitude to move in accordance with our vision and dreams rather than our circumstances.

When our sufficiency is undeveloped, misplaced or abandoned the resulting behaviors include the addiction to perfection at one pole and chronic underachievement at the other. Between this dark arc are a myriad of dysfunctional traits that include mistrust of self and others, unwillingness to show up in one's leadership, grandiosity, and self-diminishment to name a few.

 

Washington Roebling

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Consider the case of Washington Roebling. Washington, in partnership with his father, John, was the visionary who designed and built the innovative suspension bridge that links Manhattan to Brooklyn. The year was 1883. The experts said that the bridge was impossible to build, that it couldn't be done...and it almost wasn't. An accident on-site killed John Roebling. It left Washington severely injured, paralyzed and unable to talk.

Despite his injuries, Washington was committed to the goal of finishing the bridge. He had a big problem, though. All he could move was one finger. Somehow, he figured out a simple communication code through which he instructed his wife Emily about how to direct the engineering team and finish the bridge. For 13 years, Washington Roebling tapped out his instructions with one finger, until the Brooklyn Bridge was finished.

 

Three Measures

According to Angeles Arrien, a healthy relationship with the self includes Self Love, Self-Trust and Self-Respect:

  • Self Love: We see our lives as a great gift. In gratitude for that gift we treat ourselves with love and compassion.
  • Self-trust: We trust our abilities to meet any challenge that occurs, and that our sufficiency is always greater than any challenge.
  • Self-respect: The place of healthy pride, where there is neither arrogance nor self-diminishment. This is also known as quiet confidence.
 

Susan Butcher

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An exemplar of these sufficiency traits is Susan Butcher.

Susan Butcher was the first person to win three consecutive Iditarod dogsled championships, from 1986-1988. The Iditarod dog sled race is run over a thousand miles of Alaskan wilderness. According to the Academy of Achievement, "Competitors endure 100 mile per hour skin-ripping winds, blinding snow and temperatures that drop to 70 below."

When Butcher first entered the race, her male competitors were verbally abusive, and even attempted to sabotage her by moving trail signs to ensure she would become lost. She persevered.

 
Without self love, self trust and self respect we cannot marshal our gifts. Another barrier is being so unfamiliar with own inner resources that we cannot name or summon them. However, many of us are well practiced at naming our faults. This is a perfect way to undermine our own confidence. Without confidence, we are less able to act with full-hearted engagement and purposeOur personal powers — or sufficiency — are the foundation from which we can envision and act on our dreams and aspirations. Every child should be encouraged to understand that they have a personal destiny and that it can only be realized through right relationship with the self.

Another time she was charged by a moose, killing some of her dogs. Despite the setbacks, Butcher remained unstoppable. Even with the challenges, she consistently placed well. At the peak of her athletic career, Butcher was an imposing five feet six inches tall and weighed 135 pounds. Yet, she was a fearless competitor who trained up to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, 11 months of the year.

"I didn't have fears of what I was going forward to," she said. "I felt I knew what it was that I wanted... and I felt that what I wanted was worthy." Susan Butcher worked with up to 100 dogs at a time in order to have the 20 she needed for a winning team. She retired from competitive mushing to raise her family and operate Trailbreaker Kennels. In 2006 she died of leukemia at just 51. She will be remembered for her determination and passion. Ultimately, she will be remembered for her courage.

"I am not going to tell you that I don't have insecurities or low self-esteem sometimes," she said. "But self-doubt — what that word means to me — I really don't remember experiencing."

Conclusion

What if we could all experience Susan Butcher and Washington Roebling's confidence and resourcefulness? How can we turn the volume up on fair self-talk and lower the volume on the self-critic? These transformations are available to each of us if we are prepared to do the personal work that supports right relationship with the self. When we attend to building sufficiency, our actions have a positive impact in our own lives, on others and in the greater world. We fund the ability to follow our dreams and meet the world with confidence over fear.

Claiming our sufficiency is a positive first step in the journey to our personal destiny. It is also an urgent requirement for our participation in family, work and civil society. In our next issue, I will outline how sufficiency leads to integrity. Integrity, the ability to stand by our vision, values and principles, makes us trustworthy partners for the work of building healthy and productive relationships.

Posted on May 23, 2013 .