Allow me a brief moment to rant.
I’m not promising that it will be productive, but it will be passionate.
There is a subset of business coaches and thought leaders peddling dangerous ideas like you can have it all if you’re willing to hustle, and if you’re not working 24/7 you’re never going to be successful, and more is better.
Each promise is an echo of the fabled American dream — that anyone who simply works hard enough can make it. So we’re each called to push harder, do more and never stop.
Since this is a rant, I’ll be frank. That’s all bullsh*t.
More isn’t better, it’s just more and often it’s worse. And the amount you work is not directly correlated with the value of what you produce.
Success as a business leader is about editing not adding.
You can’t do it all and you certainly can’t have it all. Why do you want that anyway?
I’m not the first to point this out. Countless articles and books have been written making this same point. (To name a few, articles like in Fast Company, HBR, The Atlantic, and books like Essentialism.)
However, as widespread as this concept is, many of us are still compelled to say yes to every opportunity that appears in our path. We still wear the word busy like a badge. And we feel this compulsive need to keep adding more spinning plates to our already precarious daily circus act.
We feel like we never have enough money, or time or social media followers. Our brains are always working on what’s next instead of being with and appreciating what’s now. It’s easy to feel like this is just what life looks like in this new digital age, but does it have to?
I believe there is an alternative way of living and doing business and it asks us all to do less, but better.
What if your business was life-changing and essential for 50 clients instead of dispensable for 5,000?
What if you offered one game-changing product or service, instead of a dozen decent options?
What if this week you completed one project that you are truly proud of instead of checking a million mundane tasks off your to-do list?
Listen, I know that this rant can sound like it comes from a place of ultimate privilege. As a white man who owns my own businesses, I am aware that my life affords me the ability to pick and choose how I spend my time. And, I’m not discounting the necessity of hard work and doing shit you don’t like because it needs to be done.
But regardless of your place in the privilege matrix, I believe this is a concept we can all apply to our lives.
As a friend, what if you had deep and lasting friendships with five people instead of casual friendships with 50?
As a mother or father, what if you spent a memorable, quality afternoon with your kids each week instead of a series of rushed or distracted play times?
As a human, what if you were proud of the way you interact with the world every day instead of feeling like you are on autopilot, playing a game you can’t win?
That’s what’s at stake for all of us — A life we’re proud of.
When our lives only exist in the hamster wheel of more, more, more, we’re rarely pleased with the results and just too burned out to do anything about it.
(Okay, time to wrap up this rant, Michael.)
Friends, I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have any pithy advice. But I will say this. There are days, and sometimes weeks when I feel like I’m living the mantra, do less, but better. And when I do, I like myself more.
I like my life more. I’m more proud of the quality work I produce. I feel more present with those around me. I’m making a bigger impact on the world.
So, I’ll conclude with an invitation. I invite you to ask yourself every morning how can I do less today, but better?
Ask yourself, What can I do less of today to make room for doing other things more fully, with more integrity and presence?
I’m not promising that your life will change overnight, but I hope it starts to bring you the kind of clarity and satisfaction I’ve begun to notice in my own life.
Thanks for listening!