Consume Less, Create More

That was my mantra in 2015 and beyond. As we start a new year, I revisited this mantra and a few additional thoughts came to the fore.

Consume Less

Consumption is a critical element in one’s ability to create anything. So, consumption, by itself, is not all that bad. The problem of our times is  consumption by default. We first consume and then think if we really needed it. This is true for almost everything – from stuff we buy to the content we read, from events we attend to conversations we engage in. Unfortunately, technology has made consumption all the more easier which only adds to the problem. Have we not seen people who are constantly busy on their phones consuming stuff without moving a needle for anyone? We need to jump off the consumption treadmill.

The goal, then, is to consume mindfully and there seem to be two ways to do it:

1) Consume mindfully by having right set of filters that help you decide if something will *really* add value and increase your ability to create. When you consume mindfully, less is actually more. When you have better filters, you gain that which is relevant. Consuming mindfully also means being in the moment while you consume and not rush through the process.

2) Practice the fine art of subtraction – we don’t need more and more. We need less that is more (useful/helpful/enriching etc.) Sometimes, the only way to find if something is useful is to “try” it. But often, once we try something, it stays with us because we are not so good at subtracting stuff – at eliminating that which we don’t really need.

“Minimalism is not subtraction for the sake of subtraction. Minimalism is subtraction for the sake of focus” – Source

Create more

Most of us, I assume, long to create stuff that changes us and others for better – whether it is a radical new product or a one-on-one conversation with a colleague. Mindful consumption increases our capacity to create.

“Create what?” – you may ask.

When we exercise mindfully, we create health. When we consume food mindfully, we create wellness. When we travel mindfully, we create enriching experiences. When we converse mindfully, we create relationships. When we create what we truly love, we create joy and meaning. When we share generously, we create connections and conversations. When we connect mindfully, we create learning. When we work mindfully, we create remarkable results. When we prioritize mindfully, we create focus. When we serve mindfully, we create contentment. When we meditate, we create wellness. And we make a positive difference to ourselves and others through our creations.

To be mindful is to be present in the moment, immersed in doing whatever you choose to do. The fact that individually, we can only do so much, we have to choose our battles carefully and subtract the rest!

The time saved through mindful consumption is the time spared for engaging in creative pursuits.

So my mantra for 2016 (and beyond) is the same as it was in 2015 – Consume Less, Create More. I look forward to doing better and raising the bar for myself.

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Also read at QAspire:

Everyday Resolutions

New year brings with it a lot of excitement. It is always fun when people extend new year wishes followed by a very predictable question, “So, what are your new year resolutions?”. It makes me think.

If you are on a journey of self-improvement, you cannot afford to have once-in-a-year resolutions that fade away with time. Each day has to start with a resolve. Resolve to manage your attitude and behavior on a daily basis. Resolve to make a difference. Resolve to help people grow. Resolve to lead. Resolve to take one small step everyday in the direction of your dreams. It is a daily challenge and not a yearly one.

In her post at HBR, Whitney Johnson says, “Instead of Making Resolutions, Dream”. She suggests,

While resolutions are about "shoulds," dreaming is about hope — and who we may become. Dreaming is at the heart of disruption — it is only when we dream that we can hope to create something truly new, something that will overtake old habits, old customs, and old ways of thinking and being.

So, as you start your new year, see the possibilities of where life can take you. Then give a life to those possibilities by doing something about it every single day. That is the way to bring about a revolution through resolutions, as Nicholas Bate rightly puts it.

All the Best!

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What have you learned in 2008?

Year 2008 is coming to an end. Each year in our lives is like a chapter in a book that teaches us something. We evolve with each year and 2008 was no different. I would remember 2008 as a year that taught me a great deal about life and people. I met a lot of new people, travelled new places, tried different things and tried to make the most of my time with family – in the process I grew as a person. So what have I learned in 2008?

I have learned that…

work and life are not two different things – if you follow your passion, boundaries between work and life fade away. Work is love made visible! Retirement means loving what you do.

… leadership is about being adaptable and taking up new initiatives. To grow as a leader, one has to adapt and move with evolution in the organization.

hard work matters. Planning is important but results can only be generated by execution and hard work. As Tom Peters says – “You only get oil if you drill wells” – rephrasing this means that “You only get results if you execute”.

persistence is the key in sticking to the initiative and see it through. As Seth Godin says, “Persistence is having the same goal over and over.”

… if you wait to be happy, you will never be happy. If you are happy now, you will be happy forever. Joy is an outcome of pursuing your passions. Joy is instant. We chase happiness and fail to be joyful.

doing more on less is certainly more productive than doing more with less. More focus on less priorities delivers outstanding results.

getting into a comfort zone is dangerous (for business as well as for careers). Managers/Leaders need to constantly introspect, ask difficult questions to self and be on the edge.

… naysayers are important people who will push you to do better. Sometimes, cost of lost opportunity is more than cost of failure. Pursue your convictions and ignore the naysayers.

… if you want initiatives, give independence. 3M is a great example of how innovation happens with independence. Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative.

perfection at anything has to be an ongoing process. Initiatives, decisions or progress on project cannot wait just because you are trying to attain perfection at first go. Do something and then perfect it should be the mantra.

… if leaders/managers embrace some core properties of motherhood (care, nurture, help, support and be compassionate) – workplaces can be much different.

learning to say no is a very important career skill – more so in case of project management.

effort and execution is even more important in troubled times. We have no control on external economic situation. But we do have control on what we do and how we do it. Excellence in execution is very crucial to survive and thrive in troubled times.

… one has to break the mental chain that keeps us from taking certain decisions. When we don’t do this, our decisions heavily depend on old facts and outmoded conventions. This is referred to as “elephantine decision making”. Decision making is largely about mental programming.

people need to be treated well when they make mistakes. This just reinforces their trust and confidence.

Each year, I learn that life is a gift – I learn to cherish this gift. I learn be thankful.