December 2010
Non Multa, Set Multem: Not many, but much

This Latin phrase meaning “not many, but much” attempts to correct our misguided emphasis of quantity over quality, growth over development, of more over much.

“More” is a canon of our economy. Do more. Get more. Buy more. Have more. What is the “more” we are chasing? Often, it is more money. The presence of money in business unknowingly leads us to gravitate to a “more” that is quantified by, well, quantity.

What if we asked ourselves about a different way of getting rich? If we asked about how to grow a richer work environment — rich with trust, rich with respect, rich with fairness? What if we asked how to develop richer relationships with our customers and suppliers? How about if we thought about rich in these terms?

This is the much, and not the many in “non multa, set multem.” This is depth, not height. If getting bigger is about height, getting deeper is not only about going down. Depth is about going down, and going in. As in going inside – inside the person.

And here we wander onto turf that makes a good number of business people antsy. Notions like “meaning, purpose and belonging.”

And maybe that is part of the problem with business nowadays. By some nimble dexterity of mind, it has lifted itself outside the context of human relationships, and set itself off somewhere else. And by being outside the world of human relationships, it has been able to defile the world of relationships in which it lives, poisoning its own soil.