Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Strategic Edge: Simplify

I am pretty excited about a new website I'm building. Unfortunately, I'm a writer not a website builder so it's been a high learning curve and it is taking up a lot of my time. It is almost ready for launch though - I'll keep you posted.

When there is a lot going on focus becomes critical. It's easy to get sidetracked and off chasing pretty red balloons. Right now, I don't have the luxury to indulge my adult A.D.H.D. When I add the time it takes for my passions and my responsibilities there's nothing left over. In fact, there's a time deficit. This is nothing new. I've been operating at maximum capacity plus 10% since I was 12.

Those of you who've followed me for a while know I experienced a burn-out a few years ago. My health went to hell and I started drinking again after over a decade of sobriety - it wasn't pretty. The road back to health has been slow. One of the biggest lessons I learned was:

Doing more and going faster is almost never the answer.

This was one of the lies I told myself that kept me from my true potential. When I ran into a challenge I beat the challenge into submission. This only works until it stops working - for me it worked until I was forty and then I ran out of gas. Not only was my tank empty but I was blowing blue smoke out of every orifice and had developed a speed wobble over 50 mph. I had to stop and take a good long look at what what had worked and what hadn't. 

I found that I was always successful when I took a focused, strategic approach. 

As a community planner, strategy was a major part of what I did. In it's most simple form, a strategy begins with three questions:

  1. what do you have?
  2. what do you want? 
  3. how can you get it? 
The way forward is simple - eliminate everything that doesn't help answer these questions. We hear about the value of simplicity all the time. I'm not going to tell you to give all your stuff away. I still like stuff.  But there's a lot of stuff that is just clutter. And it's not only material things that cause clutter. People and emotions can cause more clutter than anything.

So that's what I've been doing for the last few years - gathering the good stuff and purging the clutter. It not easy. It takes time, self awareness and brutal self honesty. A lot of what I've been writing about here on Notes from the Edge is about managing the emotional stuff that stands in our way.

After tens of thousands of dollars on self-help programs and books and thousands of hours of self examination, I have come to understand that my feelings are motivated by two things. 

Love and Fear - everything I do is motivated by one or the other.

So my quest for simplicity is to keep all that is motivated and promotes love and purge everything that is motivated by and promotes fear. Sounds easy if you say it fast. The truth is I came to this epiphany a few years ago but it's a lifetime process. The good news is we have a strategic approach to follow.

Start today! What do you have? What do want more of? How can you get it?

Who are the toxic people? Start to politely distance yourself. Write down some fears. The big ones are easy - death, being alone, finances. What are these fears keeping you from? Get rid of some stuff. A messy closet is the sign of a messy mind. For guys: do you have any cut off t-shirts or pre-ripped jeans? For gals: you have any mom jeans or bedazzled whatever?

For the love of God purge that stuff!!

I loaded all my CD's onto my iPod and computer years ago. Nothing I have plays CDs anymore but I still have hundreds of CDs spilling out of my entertainment centre. WHY?

Depending on where you live, the weather is about to get really nice after a long winter. Use this time of year to simplify your life and de-clutter. Make 2014 the year you started taking control of your life. The year you got focused and strategic.

Live Long and Prosper.

1 comment:

  1. Sam,
    I want to know about your new website as soon as you're ready to communicate about it. If you need technical tips (especially on Wordpress) I might be able to help, reach out if you do :)


You comments are important! Thanks in advance.