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The difference between more and better

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

The difference between more and better

Scott Miker

There is a major difference between more and better but most people misunderstand this difference.  They lump the two together, since they are often found together, and then assume a push towards more is a push towards better.  But it isn’t.

Much of this stems from the difference between contentment and complacency.  Being content means that we don’t need more in order to be happy and fulfilled.  But it usually results in continuing to improve, not to achieve more but to keep getting better.

Complacency is different.  Being complacent means that we give up on feeling as though we can improve.  We sit around and look for others to blame for our shortcomings.  If you talk to these individuals about goals, you tend to hear the focus on more over improvement

They feel they just need more money, more time, more love, more friendship etc.  Many times there isn’t a focus on self-improvement in order to achieve these goals.  They tend to assume they are perfect and the outside world is what needs to change for them. 

I have been complacent and content at various times throughout my life.  While content I generally worked harder and harder towards my goals but somehow remained happy while doing it. 

While complacent I generally was very unhappy, but looking back I realize I wasn’t really putting in the work to improve, I expected things to be handed to me and when they weren’t I would feel things were unfair. 

So when we crave more and make more our focus we tend to follow our ego too much.  We tend to ignore any means to improve ourselves, and instead focus on simply acquiring more of something. 

The great thing about the contentment mindset is that it says we have enough in order to be happy.  We don’t need anything more in order to be fulfilled.  But it also means we don’t sit around and waste what we have.  We want to fully utilize what we have and continue to fine-tune our abilities. 

In The Tao of Systems Thinking by Michael McCurley, he states, “The possibility of more interferes with our basic knowledge of what is enough.  This is not surprising because people have been conditioned to think more is better, even when it isn’t.”

What also adds confusion is the fact that many times improvement or focusing on better, results in more.  The better we get at our job the more money we make and more responsibility we acquire. 

So it is natural to see what we want (more money and more responsibility at work) and assume we have to focus on gaining that at all costs.  But without an improvement mindset we are left chasing the wrong goal.  We are too focused on the outcome and not focused enough on the process.

So how can we get around this?  One way is to change how we develop our goals.  Instead of setting outcome goals, which solely focuses on the outcome we hope to achieve, we start setting process goals, the things we have to change in order to improve and grow. 

When we start to set process goals we start to take responsibility for our situation.  We start to see the progress we are making and it helps us avoid too much emphasis on perfection. 

It gives us a path forward, a path towards better.  As we improve and get better, we become more content in our approach we develop patience and confidence that we are headed in the right direction.  Instead of focusing on what is missing (the opposite of more) we focus on what we have and how to improve that.   

So if you are stuck on the idea that you need more of something, take a minute to reflect on what you can do to getter better in that area.  Would getting better make it more likely that you would gain what you desire?  If so, start to set process goals and slowly improve to reach your idea of success.  You might be surprised that this results in improvement and happiness, and ultimately provides more when you are finally ready, instead of when you think you are ready.