Simply subtract

Addition is the usual sign of success. More toys, more friends, more dollars, more cars, more land, more square footage, more vacations, etc.

Rarely does someone select “subtraction” as a standard mode of operating when their career is going well. Yet simplicity is the ultimate form of reward. And simplicity leads to clear communication – clear mesages.

A few sermons ago my minister spoke about this concept when referring to how to focus. He suggested the more we pare down our needs and hone what is really important, the better equipped we are to live within our God-given abilities. Or maybe that’s what I thought he said. As soon as he explained faith-by-the-numbers, my mind launched into what works best for us when we develop our ability to manage ourselves.

I have often fallen into the pattern of Doing Too Much. Starting in high school, I subscribed to the practice of finding things to do outside of the typical school day to extend my options in having fun and trying out my skills. The more, the merrier, I often felt. Yet I soon learned that More isn’t what leads to the Better.

I got behind, I ran out of energy, I forgot what was important. Similarly, our focus is challenged in our professions. We seek more. Our nature is conditioned to not feel good enough, and yet when we get more we are not satisfied. Our messages to those around us become confusing, for what triggers their understanding of us is not what we say. It’s what we do. It’s what we value. And when we value more and more, we become less trusting.

Defining “good enough” is key. Until then, our focus wanders to what else is out there. This may be goods, it may be people. Wanting more based on what the Jones have is essentially our social/American behavior pattern. In this pattern, satisfaction doesn’t exist.

Yet when it comes to helping others, for no other reason than to allow them to have what is fair, we begin subtracting. We see what we can give up. What we can do without. We don’t focus on pride, but on what is essential.

This new attitude allows us to reach out. This attitude opens eyes and ears. This attitude is humbling, forgiving, blessed and downright inspiring.

Less is more. This week I learned how motivating it can be when I started giving “thank you” options to clients. When I started subtracting, the world started giving back. How’s that for simple math?

Share Button
On March 16th, 2011, posted in: focus, God-given abilities, good enough, Message by