Monday, June 30, 2014

Less But Better

I am reading an insightful book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown and its main point is that “less but better” is an idea whose time has come. The author touches on what has widely come to be known as the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule, which I blogged about earlier in my post titled Living the Edited Life. As he reminds readers, our focus needs to be on the 20% of our efforts that produce 80% of our results.

McKeown also shares how uber-investor Warren Buffett—who famously said “Our investment philosophy borders on lethargy”—owes 90% of his wealth to only 10 investments, which got me thinking about what I’ll call the Tithe Principle. As anyone remotely familiar with the scriptural concept of tithing knows, a tithe represents a tenth, or 10%, of one’s wealth. And as a believer myself, I can attest to a higher standard of living with the 90% left after tithing than the alternative of not tithing.

The book even delves into what is called the power law theory, whereby certain efforts actually produce exponentially more results than others, as in 10X, or 100X or even 1000X. The thinking here is that it pays to leverage our assets in such a way as to optimize our endeavors; in other words, work smarter not harder, or exercise what I call the Eagle Ethic. While eagles are powerful birds of prey they conserve their energy by being very strategic in their hunting, to the point that some may consider them lazy. Their motto could easily be: minimum effort, maximum effect. Less but better: what a concept.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Road Less Travelled

I am reading a book called The Idle Traveller: The Art of Slow Travel by Dan Kienan, a travel writer who rarely if ever flies because he prefers more pedestrian modes of travel, such as walking. The book is all about taking the road less travelled, which the famous Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken” suggests makes all the difference. And I agree, so much so that I carry a copy of the poem in my Moleskine.

Speaking of roads and notebooks, fellow travel writer and user of Moleskines, Bruce Chatwin, is quoted by Kienan: “Man’s real home is not a house, but the Road, and life itself is a journey, to be walked on foot.” While I don’t know if I want to walk everywhere on the journey of life, there is much to be said for slowing down long enough to savor the stroll.

Kienan also quotes my favorite travel writer, Henry David Thoreau: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” And the author suggests that what Thoreau may mean by “music” is an alternative concept of time, namely celebrating the present.

“The thrill of living in the moment, which is the real destination of all journeys, is what the greatest travel writers are revealing in their meticulous descriptions of the places they go and the people they meet,” writes Kienan. Wherever we are on our own travels it helps if we move more slowly and read the signposts along the way so we can make detours if necessary. Here is to enjoying the journey!