Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Addition by subtraction

The theme for this year is my journey towards contentment. Hell that's probably the theme for the rest of my life. Some days it seems closer than others. After reading about a different approach to goal setting, listing those things you don't need as opposed to what you do need to achieve your goal, I thought I'd overlay that technique here and see what I've got. The idea is to combat our natural tendency as humans to overcomplicate things. All too often things which actually are not that important sneak in with those that are, diluting focus on the important items and creating stress and discontent because of the sheer mass of things which one has to consider. Life becomes shades of gray instead of black and white.

Here are some of my goals:
1) Qualify for Ironman Hawaii. What I don't need to get there: a new bike. I put this first because among my many flaws, envy rates pretty high. I need to exert extra control to keep this one at bay, especially knowing that had I the means to buy a high end bike (and been able to justify the expenditure to myself) , I may well have qualified this last year. However I don't need the bike because the goal is really about what I can do with my natural gifts. No piece of carbon, however sleek and beautiful, has any bearing on the proper expression of my gifts and thus my person.

2) Be a better parent. What I don't need to get there: win every fight with my kids. I'm goal oriented, a perfectionist. I make a living delivering "the single version of the truth." I'm known for standing my ground or driving my agenda; the irresistible force. Even parenting advice revolves around "you're the adult, they are the child." Well hell sometimes being the adult means showing your child that winning at all costs is not necessarily the objective. I'm starting to back off on my son. I admit to being overly hard on him at times (learned behavior I believe). Last night I had the coolest experience: we were watching "the Worst Cook in America" on Food Network, and he just snuggled up and fell asleep on me. Now THAT's a win!

3) Be important. What I don't need to get there: I don't need to be a senior executive or a highly paid consultant. I don't need to be anything other than who I truly am. I'm not a manager. I'm a doer, perhaps leader, perhaps visionary (in my field). People do listen to me. That's enough. Hell that's a lot! There is no "CIO" in my future. No Vice President or President. It's just me. My professional life does not define my value as a person.

4) Be a better husband. What I don't need to get there: win every fight with my wife. Remind her that I'm always there; don't just assume she knows.

A friend described for me a different way of thinking about strengths and weaknesses. Strengths are those things which leave you feeling better about yourself, and weakness are those that leave you feeling worse. So the common thread to the things I need to leave behind is to eliminate weakness. I accept my life because envy, jealousy, regret, control, etc... make me weak. I will focus my career goals on doing, on leading by example, because "managing" makes me feel weak. I will not permit negative statements by others to influence my sense of self, because their statements say far more about them than me, and stressing about what they say makes me weak. Hey, who except for a handful of people even really knows me?

Finally, I will not not forget to let those I love know that I love them. Forgetting makes me weak. Reminding them makes me strong.

Curious about how others are adding by subtracting? Try this link.