The Power of Subtraction
Things aren’t always what they seem to be.
A quote by Peter Drucker for your consideration:
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
I’ve always been an advocate and believer in the “less is more” school of thought, but if you ponder the Drucker quote for a minute it brings it to an entirely different level.
Just think about all the things that you do that should not be done at all…
…and what would happen if you stopped doing them?
How much more you would be adding to your life through subtraction.
It’s how the wealthiest people in the world attain their riches—they relentlessly focus on their objective and eliminate everything else.
Subtraction is a powerful force multiplier. Elimination creates acceleration elsewhere. What is it that you wish to accomplish?
An idea for your consideration…
…before you start, make a list of what you’ll stop.
This is the mechanism by which goals are more easily attained.
But beware, if you’re like most folks you’ll be tempted to ADD—listening to that little voice in your head saying, “I need to start doing this if I want to get that,” but this time, start with subtraction.
For instance, if you wanted to lose weight, you’ll probably start adding new activities to your plan like (start exercising 30 minutes per day, start eating healthy, start going to the gym, etc.)
But what if instead, you took the opposite approach?
You start by making a list of what you’ll eliminate (i.e., stop drinking 6 cans of Coke per day, stop eating dessert after every dinner, stop spending 3 hours on social media per day, stop trying to follow diet plans that ADD ten new things to do first, etc.
For further context look at what happens when we view this through the 80/20 rule lens—that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes.
Imagine the waste of trying to make the 80% of your activities more efficient when they don’t matter much at all to the final outcome (success) anyway.
It might be funny watching a dog chase their tale in circles, but for us humans, it’s downright sad!
You’ve heard the “think before you speak” mindset. This is more of a “think before you act” version.
And for a nice little twist: “Subtract before you act.”
Your ONE Thing
For more inspiration and mind expansion on these “less is more” matters let’s turn to Gary Keller‘s “The ONE Thing” bestselling book.
Just one of many quotable nuggets found in the book:
“One Yes must be defended over time by 1,000 No’s.“
Here’s another quote from Gary Keller:
“Success demands singleness of purpose. You need to do fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects. It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world.”
Also closely related to the concept of minimalism, or a way of reducing the non-essential to focus on what’s truly important…Think Steve Jobs, a true minimalist and arguably one of the most brilliant business minds to have ever lived.
Former Apple CEO John Sculley once shared a little story about what he experienced when he visited Job’s house:
“I remember going into Steve’s house and he had almost no furniture in it. He just had a picture of Einstein, whom he admired greatly, and he had a Tiffany lamp and a chair and a bed. He just didn’t believe in having lots of things around, but he was incredibly careful in what he selected.”
Just imagine putting some version of this into your life and making it part of your story.
Clearing away everything but the most essential things—remove the distractions, focus on subtractions—clearing a more direct path to prosperity, whatever that means to you.
The world of today is one of constant, incessant noise—clutter, distractions, choices, media and messaging—a digital maze and haze of confusion.
So, give yourself permission to reduce what is non-essential to the core objective.
Say NO more. Regard every YES as a privilege and sacred.
Guard them closely. Subtract to add.
You’ve got this, I’ll be rooting for ya!