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Weekend Briefing No. 229
Welcome to the weekend. Χαίρετε (hello) from the Greek Island of Paros. Ok… real talk, as you’re reading this, I actually am on a beach in Paros. But I wrote this briefing last week from my office in Brooklyn. A few times a year I take a week or two to completely unplug, relax and reflect. In our hyperconnected world, I find that I can only thrive – be my best self for my family, friends and clients – if I build daily, weekly and annual rhythms of rest and reflection into my life. This issue of the weekend briefing will focus on the theme of unplugging, reflecting, and minimalism.
I would love to hear what rhythms you have incorporated into your life to allow for rest and reflection. Have they worked for you? Just shoot me an email. I look forward to reading them when I plug back in.
Lastly, I created a country playlist for the 4th of July every year. Here’s the 2018 country playlist.
46 – On average, people in the United States check their phones 46 times per day. That’s up from 33 looks per day in 2014.
35 – Austrians have 35 days of paid holiday per year, the most in the world.
8 – The optimal number of hours an adult should sleep per night is 8. Sleep is important, people!
Baratunde Thurston wrote a brilliant (and practical) article about how he unplugged for 25 days and lived to tell about it. He has some interesting realizations: 1) I had become obsessed with The Information. Before The Unplugging, I wanted to read every feed and follow all the right sources so I could be connected to every important event and insight as they unfolded. 2) I shared too much. I spent an inordinate amount of time documenting, commenting on, and sharing experiences. In the process, I wasn’t fully having those experiences, since it was imperative that I tweet something relevant before they were even over. 3) I was addicted to myself. Our digital social tools feed right into that ego trap, since pretty much my every piece of self-expression is accompanied by performance indicators. I can measure how many “likes” an idea has. If my tweet was not retweeted, did I even tweet it? 4) Unoccupied moments are beautiful. The greatest gift I gave myself was a restored appreciation for disengagement, silence, and emptiness. I don’t need to fill every time slot with an appointment, and I don’t need to fill every mental opening with stimulus. Unoccupied moments are beautiful. Fast Company (18 minutes)
Concern & Control
Circles of Concern are the things that you often waste time and energy worrying about, but that you have little to no control over. Meanwhile, Circles of Control are the things that can have influence in your daily life. By eliminating or reducing your Circle of Concern, you have more time and energy to put towards your Circle of Control. That means you have more mental space to use for creating art, starting a business, having meaningful conversations, or otherwise contributing to the world around you. On the flip side, the heavy barrage of information in our society can easily push most of your time and energy into Circles of Concern if you let it. When you're overdosing on information that you can't act on it's easy to see why people say things like “it's a messed-up world out there” or “somebody needs to fix it.” Why make an effort when everything seems out of your control? James Clear (11 minutes)
One of my favorite books of the year was Ray Dalio’s book Principles. As he advanced in his career he realized that he needed to build in more time for reflection into his schedule. This is his system: 1) Set aside time to reflect on your day. Everyone makes mistakes. The main difference is that successful people learn from them and unsuccessful people don’t. Setting aside time at the end of a day to consider what went well, what didn’t, and why, is vital for future progress. 2) Learn from other people. A helpful technique that Dalio uses to think through logical processes is to ask other people probing questions. For example, by asking a person about the process they use to reach an answer or conclusion, you’re able to identify steps they might be taking you haven’t considered. 3) Track your mistakes and learnings. By keeping a track of all your previous mistakes and things you’ve learned you’ll be able to assess how you’ve improved over time. It can help you spot weaknesses and potential points of failure before they’ve even become apparent. Evolution (13 minutes)
While we like to think of exceptionally successful people as being more talented than we are, the more I looked around, the more I discovered that was rarely the case. One of the reasons we think that talent is the explanation is that it gives us a pass. We’re not as talented as those super-successful people are, so of course we don’t have the same results they have. The problem with this explanation is that it’s wrong. Talent matters, of course, but not as much as you think. As I looked around, I noticed that the most successful people I know have one thing in common: they are masters at eliminating the unnecessary from their lives. The French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry hit on the same idea, writing in his memoir, “Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.” This principle, it turns out, is the key to success. Incredibly successful people focus their time on just a few priorities and obsess over doing things right. This is simple but not easy. Do less, and do it better. Farnam Street (6 minutes)
Minimalism is not a lack of something. It’s simply the perfect amount of something. Minimalism is about more than just possessions, though. Minimalism is focusing on and committing to the fundamentals, instead of wasting time, money, or energy on details. Simply put, we want things we don’t need. That desire steers us in the wrong direction and we are eventually weighed down with extra: stuff and concerns. If you’re interested in minimalism, here are some tips to get started 1) Minimalistic Scheduling. Doing more things does not drive faster or better results. Doing better things drives better results. Even more accurately, doing one thing drives better results. 2) Minimalistic Goal Setting. Your odds of success improve when you are forced to direct all of your energy and attention to fewer tasks. If you want to master a skill—truly master it—you have to be selective with your time. 3) Minimalist Consumption. Buy less, but buy better. Try implementing a buy one give one approach. Every time you buy a thing, give another thing away. James Clear (14 minutes)
As Marc Benioff came into his 10th year at Oracle, he was really burning out, but he couldn’t exactly figure out why. He didn’t have a good feeling when he went in the building. He went into Larry’s office and said, “I need to take some time off.” And right away he said, “Yeah, why don’t you just take a sabbatical. You’ve worked really hard for 10 years.” First, he went to Hawaii for a few months and really, really worked on his meditation practice. Then he went to India for six weeks with a friend who was also going through a similar life transformation. They had these amazing experiences going to all of these different ashrams and meeting all these different spiritual masters. It was almost like a guru tour. He definitely came back from that trip as a different person. He came back with a clear vision of what the future of the internet was going to be in regards to software-as-a-service and cloud computing. He also had a much deeper sense of his spiritual self. He said, “When I start a company, I will integrate culture with service.” When he started Salesforce, on March 8, 1999, he said “we’re going to put one percent of our equity, product and time into a foundation and create a culture of service within our company. We’ll be creating new technology, the cloud; we’ll be creating a new business model, subscription services; and we’ll create a culture built on philanthropy.” New York Times (13 minutes)
…and here are some stunning pictures of soccer fields (or football pitches if you prefer) from around the world. Because… World Cup. Atlantic (5 minutes)
Do external things distract you? Then make time for yourself to learn something worthwhile; stop letting yourself be pulled in all directions. - Marcus Aurelius
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