To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short. – Confucius
What does that mean?
This is another Goldilocks style quote. Neither too hot nor too cold. Neither too long or too short. Neither too wide nor too narrow. Always looking for that which is “just right.” And being just right is what this quote is about. Doing too much or too little are both wrong.
If you were building a house and you needed a board that was eight feet long, a board that was an inch short would be just as wrong as a board that was an inch long. In my opinion, this applies to other aspects of our lives besides the construction of houses.
While in many cases we will do too much rather than risking doing too little, that doesn’t make it any less wrong. All it does is make the recovery a little easier. In an imperfect world and as imperfect people, getting it just right every time isn’t very likely. However, I believe that it is a worthy aim.
Why is striving to get it right the first time important?
In business, it is usually better to over-perform than under-perform. However, over-performance has it’s own price. You are doing things for your customer for which you should be paid, but for which are not charging. Doing too much comes with a price.
In our personal relationships, the effort and time required are the only down sides to over-performing. However, the effort and time required could be used to further other projects. This is a lost opportunity. Again, too much has it’s price.
I don’t think that we need to discuss how doing too little is problematic. If nothing else, we learned that lesson in school, right? But I’m not sure too many of us learned the same lesson for doing too much, for going beyond what was required or expected. It’s a pleasant surprise for the recipient, but it comes with a cost to us.
Where can I apply this in my life?
In carpentry, there is an old saying about measuring twice and cutting once. This is another way to state this quote. Get it right, double check what is necessary, and cut the board to the proper length the first time, because both too long and too short are simply not the correct length.
That is a real simple, black-and-white example. Now for a harder question: how long should you talk on the phone to a friend? Can every conversation be properly concluded in the exact same amount of time? In my experience, the answer is an emphatic “No!” Each situation is different, and requires a bit of empathy and knowledge to know when to end each call.
Most of our lives are in that messy “gray area” where there are no precise rules for what is too much or too little. We must use trial and error to find the clues which tell us what is the correct amount, neither too little nor too much.
But this requires us to pay attention to the reactions we get, and adjust our methods and decisions based on this feedback. This fine tuning based on feedback is what will allow us to better find the proper amount, and give neither too little nor too much.
In this manner, I believe that this quote can be applied to any part of our lives. Using our intelligence to notice changes and determine the necessary adjustments, and to use our courage to make those adjustments and take the risks, we will become better at finding the happy medium.
Another example would be cooking. Is a cake still a cake with too much flour or too little? Yes, there is a gray area where it will still be a cake, just a little bit different in texture and structure. However, there is also a line beyond which it will cease being a cake.
Similarly, many aspects of our life have a gray zone between too much and too little. Our first effort, in my opinion, is to find that gray area and stay within it as much as possible. Avoiding the “wrong zones” of too much or too little should be fairly easy, with a little experience.
The more difficult trick will be to refine our sensitivity to the situation at hand so that we might better stay at or near the point where we are doing exactly the right amount. Our lives, and the lives of others will be improved when we can get the right amount done nearly every time.
It isn’t as easy as it sounds, but neither is it impossible. You just have to put in the right amount of effort. 8)
From: Twitter, @OprahsQuotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/confucius104949.html
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