You need to subtract, not add.
You need to cut, not expand.
You need to combine, not fragment.
You need to connect, not divide.
And when you are down to the bare minimum, that’s when clarity kicks in. In life, in writing, in business, in projects, in marketing, in communication, you do not get to deep understanding by adding chaos on top of chaos.
And when you are down to the bare minimum, that’s when you can slowly start building. On solid foundation, in the direction you have chosen, taking the right people with you.
We idealize what we don’t know and we dismiss what we know.
Then we fill the gap with misery.
We should kill our ideals, not to put a stop to our ambition, but to appreciate that we already have all we need to be at peace.
Episode nine of the second season of Parks and Recreation presents a plot that many will find familiar.
The boss wants to win a competition and calls for the whole team to come up with ideas. Despite the general disengagement, each one of them presents a proposal; and when failing to agree on which one to put forward for the prize, they come together and combine them all into one. The result is a camel – in the sense of a horse designed by committee – that leaves them with slim chances to win, and yet it is a team effort. Unsatisfied and driven by possible reward, the boss calls the external consultant, who comes up with something that would most likely take the first prize. While further disengaging the team.
The point is that it is more important to achieve something together, anything really. This is how team, morale, and bond are built.
There are very few circumstances when winning matters more then the way you compete. Very few.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
It’s great advice. But if feels difficult, sometimes vague, often out of reach.
To make it more concrete, consider this.
You work at a company that fosters a toxic environment. Everyone is only focused on achieving a reward, to the extent that people barely greet each other when they meet in the corridors, actively hide information to get some edge, and only put a smile on their faces in the presence of a manager.
You can’t take it anymore. You are close to burn out, you are tired of being treated as a machine, and you dread the meeting to set your next goals way more than failing at them.
You have some options.
You can quit. Some do that, not many though.
You can muscle through. Most do that, and of course while doing that they lose energy, enthusiasm, well-being.
You can put up a shield of cynicism and sarcasm. I have done it myself many times. Become the one who has a witty response at the ready, a negative comment for every situation, a superior attitude that eventually will make it impossible for others to take you seriously.
Or you can reach out and ask: “how are you?” Very few do that. Despite the awful situation, very few understand that what is most needed in difficult circumstances is connection. Very few understand that they can be the initiator of something that is going to grow around them. Very few understand that they can indeed be the change they want to see in their world.
It is difficult. It can be done.
Why do you commit to a heated discussion in the comment section of a social media post?
If it is to share your opinion, display your wit, dispense your humour, a better way is to create your own post, article, story, and share it with the world.
If it is to change minds, a better way is to engage in a one to one conversaton, and be prepared to be changed as well.
If it is to spend some free time, a better way is to read a book, go for a walk, watch a movie, reach out to a friend, play with your kids, or really anything else.
If it is to avoid work you don’t want to do, a better way is to find work you actually want to do.
There’s really no reason why one should commit to a heated discussion in the comment section of a social post. Yet those happen every day. And people lose their energy, focus, and minds to this activity.
Get back control.