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Guide to Essentialism for Advancement

Image Courtesy: Simply Placed

“The way of the Essentialist isn’t about setting New Year’s resolutions to say “no” more, or about pruning your in-box, or about mastering some new strategy in time management. It is about pausing constantly to ask, “Am I investing in the right activities?” – Greg McKeown

Fear of missing out, lack of emotional intelligence, and a mindset of consumerism is forcing everyone to constantly want more, and with that the desire to take on additional assignments and high pressured jobs. The murky coalition that now exists between the forces of consumerism, mobile devices, and social media platforms ensures some inadvertent consequences – not all bad, but certainly a high degree of issues. Overcoming such a mindset is essential in all realms of life, but we will focus on the idea of ‘essentialism’ in an effort to build and advance one’s career.

Opposing Mindset

It would be easy to hanker after better and multiple projects, jobs that require intense hours and even relocation, and other such ‘more’ actions in one’s job, in a bid to advance one’s career. Contractual employment, for example, is a term that such mindsets abhor and refuse to accept. It just isn’t ‘enough’ and does not sound ‘rushed and big’. In the bid to grab projects and assignments and other tasks, people tend to overlook and even negate the truly vital portions of their job / career. It would make more sense to carefully assess the opportunities that come along, understand deeply those that align to one’s objectives and goals, and ignore all those that do not match up to the current situation. This is the core of essentialism – and opposes the neglect of urgent and pressing objectives. The fact is that if someone is good at their job, and is viewed as being successful in their career opportunities and requests will abound – and without a clear focus on objectives, essentialism will be a lost cause.

Most people find it hard to let go, and this is more pronounced in the case of go-getters and high achievers. However, to be truly successful it is important to understand that is humanly impossible to do everything and also trying to please others is highly imprudent. Essentialism propagates that unless one is able to prioritize their own life, there will always be undue demands, which would end in someone else making life and career decisions for a person. It is all about balancing through trade-offs, since while some people may be able to pursue several things at one time, it seems highly unlikely that anyone person can pursue everything. High achievers, read as people who are successful would be those who strategically chose their objectives and pursued them with all their might. It is about choosing the best options and completely discarding the others. When looking at career building opportunities, many people tend to make the same mistake – not analyzing opportunities in alignment to their goals and objectives for lack of time or believing that every opportunity is a ‘golden one’. Remaining stuck within indecision wastes time and energy and can truly hamper growth and success in a person’s career, proving counter-intuitive to what a person would actually be moving towards.

Essentialism is about determining what is Essential

There are some techniques to understand what is essential:

 Understand your own role and the impact it has on the goals of an organization. “Raise your hand” only for projects that meet the objectives of your own role and that of the organization.

 Place all your assignments / projects / tasks within your role in a list, and assign them an urgent or important status, and proceed to complete them accordingly. Do this exercise regularly for both short term and annual goals.

 Place your highest personal values alongside the culture of the organization. Take up assignments / projects that will forward the cause of both.

 Ask for help / support where required. Not everyone has the leeway to firm up priorities of their job / career. If required, seek the help of a senior person / experienced individual to help prioritize. Identify time wasters and find ways to either eliminate or put them on automated mode.

 Remain mindful and do what is most essential, to the cause of progressing your job and career, on a daily basis.

 Push and stretch to become increasingly productive and effective in your job – not just becoming better at what you do, but also challenging the status quo. Of course, challenging what is should be done when you know exactly why it would be important to your role and despite going against the tide you would be able to garner support.

Essentialism Now

To move ahead in one’s career, whether in contractual employment or a permanent assignment, some changes are necessary to focus on what is truly important. Utilize new techniques to remove excesses and simplify processes, making it easier to stride towards that which would indeed be most critical to your career building and advancement.

Called to be HUMANE

“With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.” – William Lloyd Garrison

Of course we each have our understanding of what being a human means and live our life accordingly! But are we humane?

Being humane is the overarching term that embodies all the best and positive qualities of humankind. Every single day we face ‘choices’ to either be empathetic and compassionate or the converse. Do we always choose humane qualities that guarantee we are tender and kind to other humans and to our animals and plants? Hmmm……

Today we live in tough times and inhumane behavior is rampant. We are resorting to unkindness, turning blind to the sufferings of other humans, and inflicting cruelty on them and the planet we live on. Cruelty encompasses all acts of commission and omission that allow us to perpetrate misery and suffering on others/our planet and turn a blind eye to the distress and pain of others. Not surprisingly, we humans who regard ourselves as ‘superior’, are the only ones for whom cruelty is a thought out act and actually a motivating factor. Tsk, tsk!

“The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane” – Mahatma Gandhi – a concept lost and forgotten by most! Our species evolved, and developed quickly the skills that allow us to be the ‘overseers’ of this planet. Yes, overseers/agents – not owners. While this brings immense responsibility, it also brings a sense of false supremacy – making us humans drunk with power. This drunkenness is what leads us to be inhumane in our ethical dilemma challenges.

While some feel morally compelled to act and fight maladies, disease, injustice, hunger, and other evils, the drunken ones use these inequities to suppress, torture, and even gain more inebriated power. The role of stewards of this planet completely changes with such – no responsibility only power and dominion.
Being humane is about assuming the responsibility of this stewardship and carrying out our duties as humans towards ourselves, others, and the planet.

The Fragility of the Silken Thread

No the intent is not to degrade the human spirit – just a stark reminder of the fragility of the silken thread!

Yes, human life hangs by a fragile silken thread, which, depending on the indices of vanity and arrogance can be less or more frangible. I woke up this morning in a daze – no sleep due to the errant electric supply and the thoughts of several friends and other known persons having ‘turned to dust’. One wants to believe that this is all a bad dream, but the heart sinks when you realize – no, it is reality. In the time today – life, death, loss – have occupied my thoughts and never has the fragility of the human life been so terrifying.

It is natural to feel scared and sad, but what we forget is that no one ‘survives life’! People die, and especially when they die what we deem as ‘too soon’ nothing makes sense, and this too soon is a hard pill to swallow. Even when the elderly or sick die, it seems wrong, unfair, and leaves us confused. We as a species are obsessed with youth, beauty, winning, making progress, and ‘getting the better of’. These are not bad – our obsession for them is. What makes the silken thread even more fragile is our proclivity to forget what and who matters the most.

In the moments of loss – whether our own or that of others/the public – we are intensely reminded that we need to stop, cogitate, and take stock of our priorities. We need to question our capacity and need for POWER. We as humans believe that this power is unstoppable and there is no doubt of its supremacy. But the illusion of this hegemony is broken and we are now forced to accept that the fragility of the silken thread is the truth. The fact is when we find no words or there isn’t enough wisdom to explain, most explain it as ‘God’s will’ or that ‘He is Who Holds the Other End of the Thread’. Whatever we may say – the truth is we humans are constantly in the pursuit of ‘security’.

What we are facing now, or in the past and in the future – will it be what we want? Will the arrogant, preponderant, and pretender humans admit that they are not in control? We want to ‘own’ all the knowledge, all there is to understand – in fact have control over every nanosecond of life. We want threads of freedom and security – but in an instant we lost dominion and ‘control’.

It’s All About You – Learn to Trust YOU

I write from a place that is deep within my being. I write to let my inner most thoughts out. Today, after a long time, I feel down and out. Confused, anxious, screaming on the inside – just some of the ways to describe how I feel today! However, it is during such moments that I pause to think of what I stand for and what my inner self tells me. I want to say that this is no way ‘a preachy’ message. It is simply a hope that it would help – the way it helps me.

I was the youngest and would hang around my mum, who would consistently speak to me and drop these ‘pearls of wisdom’ and I always listened carefully. One of the things that she always said was that whenever you feel sad, upset, defeated, afraid, angry, and other such energy draining emotions, stop. Stop not from feeling them but stop trying to seek explanations and comfort from the outside. Knowing your inner self, attaining strength from your inner self, and replenishing it constantly, requires one to be silent.

Being silent is possibly one of the hardest asks today. However, if your inner self – that insanely powerful guide is to work well, silence is critical. Pay attention to it – it whispers all the time, even when you cannot find any semblance of sense around you. Respect it – respect your emotions – respect your inner being. Pause, breathe, reflect! The mind is powerful enough to lead and confuse – there is absolutely no doubt!

I reach out to people all the time – am sure you do as well. However, making and keeping the connection with your inner self, listening to it, paying attention to it, and replenishing your inner strength – is the first and most important duty. I realize that I cannot pour from an empty cup! I am struggling today with this, as many of you probably are. Give yourself time and space to have that that conversation with your inner self. Here’s to more power to my (and your) inner voice!

#Staysafe. #Staykind.