One weekend we were gearing up to get the kids dressed, fed, and armed for soccer games. In our house, with 2 young boys who aren’t yet able to fully dress themselves, feed themselves, or spend 10 minutes without getting into a cage-match level fight… plus a baby — getting the entire outfit in motion is an impressive feat that usually ends up with lots of yelling, crying, and stomping. I think of it like moving an army. It has to happen on time and in a very short period of time. Surprises happen, and oh yeah, it’s complicated by the fact none of the troops actually want to go in the direction you are trying to make them go! It’s insanity.
A few weekends ago I knew the storm was coming. It always comes. No amount of preparation can avoid it. I had a great workout early in the morning and had some good reading time to myself, so this caused me to be uncharacterstically intentional about my emotions that day. I decided before I came downstairs that I was goign to force myself to use less is more. And I did!
That morning, when dealing with the boys: I didn’t repeat myself. I didn’t raise my voice. The more “the enemy” provoked me, the quieter I would get. The more they yelled, the less I would talk. The slower they moved the fewer and more deliberate my words became. Low and behold, it actually worked. Now I’m not saying we got to the soccer fields on time, or that everyone had their shorts on the right way, or that everyone was even wearing underwear, but we were all a little bit calmer and better equipped to deal with the challenges that we faced. There was a little more smiling going on, and the energy level felt a little more positive to be in the Cook family that one glorious day.
I didn’t actually think it would work, honestly. Even more, I didn’t think I could keep the patience to follow through. But I’m glad I did. So far I haven’t been able to do it again, but it’s a goal to have more days where I use the “less is more” approach and we’ll see what happens.
I’ll spare you the lengthy extension and applications of the lessons here, but I have to share the top areas where I want to apply “less is more” to my life:
- web site content – fewer words
- e-mails – fewer words
- meetings – less small talk
- conversations – less content, more experience
- bulleted lists at the end of a blog post
- concluding paragraphs in blog posts
Use less. Bye.