L is for Lagom

L is for “lagom”. This is a quintessential Swedish concept. Now according to the dictionary, “lagom” means “just right”, “just enough”, or “sufficiently”, sort of like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Not too hot, not too cold, just right.

But “lagom” is a lot more important than that, it’s a state of being that Swedes embrace and seek to achieve. This is a country where poverty has been more or less eradicated, at least compared to most other countries. At the same time, it is considered very bad taste to flaunt wealth. You just don’t see rich people driving around here in stretch limos or other fancy cars.

The goal is to be “lagom”.

When Swedes have a difference of opinion, they really seek consensus. Conversations are filled with qualifying words that allow the other side some wiggle room and allow people to gracefully step back.

In school classes and at workplaces, lots of decision-making arises from work groups. This is not always the perfect approach…Often the strongest personality dominates, while people who aren’t prepared or interested can sit back and let others do the work.

It isn’t perfect, but it is “lagom”. Which is why Peps Persson has a song called “Alldeles lagom”, “Completely lagom”.