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Productivity & Organizing Myth #9 – We need a lot of stuff!

Productivity & Organizing Myth #9 – We need a lot of stuff!
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    Myth: We need a lot of material things.
    Reality: We can succeed and be happy with very little stuff.

    When we productivity pros hear a few phrases we pay attention because you are giving clues to your mindset. Do you say a version of any of these things?

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    • I need another ______ (fill in the blank- pair of shoes, suit, house, car, computer, tech toy, etc.)
    • It would be nice to pay off those credit cards!
    • If we lived in a bigger house we’d be tidy because we’d have a place to put things.
    • I spend all weekend cutting the grass, washing the car, and maintaining the house.
    • Put the car in the garage – ha!

    Here are some downsides to having too much stuff:

    • You have to pay for it
    • You have to insure it
    • You have to maintain it
    • You have to walk and work around it
    • You have to store it
    • You won’t have room for new stuff to come into your life

    In a few chapters of my life I got rid of almost everything. I stopped my job and resigned from all my volunteer positions. We sold the house. We put half of everything in recycle or the dumpster. The rest of our stuff went into storage. And, I lived very happily for years! This was extreme but illustrates how little I needed. For example, I was in Europe for 4 months with:

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    • 1 backpack
    • 1 pair of pants
    • 1 pair of shorts
    • 1 skirt
    • 3 shirts
    • 1 sweater
    • 1 jacket
    • 1 pair of shoes (2 pr socks)

    TJ is experiencing a similar revelation as he is getting divorced and living in a rented 2-bedroom townhouse. This weekend he said to me, “It’s amazing how little you really need. A couple of carloads of stuff and a dozen pieces of furniture and I am all set up here. I have the kids every other weekend and visitors now and then and really do have all I need. I got used to the 3 car garage and filled that with all kinds of things but I sure do fine without them.” TJ now has a one-car garage.

    Linda’s revelation came when she moved to New York City (NYC). Her new place is 1/5th the size of her suburban home. Forced by space limitations Linda scaled to having what she needs and no more. Multiple pair of black shoes are now represented by just 2 pair – and that’s the only color she wears with her traditional corporate/banking wardrobe. Still, she’s content with her living quarters and the abundance of little neighborhood restaurants that she frequents rather than cook daily. And, she’s since moving to the coop, she’s added two little ones (kids) to the ‘limited’ space.

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    When circumstances push these real-life people to consider what they really need they have adjusted and lived rich lives with much less stuff. They also focus a lot more on the experiences in their life and are free from things that consume loads of money, time and energy.

    Previous Myths:

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    Susan Sabo is an intrepid traveler who has organized her life to be out of the country for months at a time. She’s visited South & Central America, Europe, Asia, ‘Down Under” and traveled across North America. Susan writes at www.productivitycafe.com, consults with professionals on improving their personal productivity and presents motivating productivity programs & tips (such as how to get ready for the busy season) to groups.

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    Last Updated on October 14, 2020

    The Art of Humble Confidence

    The Art of Humble Confidence

    To be confident or not to be confident, that is the question. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been a bit confused about all this discussion about the subject of confidence. Do you really need to be more confident or should you try to be more humble? I think the answer is both – you just have to know where to use it.

    East VS West – Confidence, It’s a Cultural Thing

    In typical Western countries, the answer to the confidence debate is obvious – more is better. Our heros are rebellious, independent and shoot first, ask questions later. I think this snippet of dialog from The Matrix sums it up best:

    Agent Smith – “We’re willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start. All that we’re asking in return is your cooperation in bringing a known terrorist to justice.”
    Neo – “Yeah. Well, that sounds like a pretty good deal. But I think I may have a better one. How about, I give you the finger”
    [He does]
    Neo -“ …and you give me my phone call.”

    In Eastern countries, the tone is often considerably different. Elders are supposed to be revered not dismissed. The words ‘guru,’ meaning a teacher, and the philosophy of dharma, loosely translated to mean ‘duty,’ come from here. In Eastern cultures humility and respect are more important than confidence.

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    These perspectives are generalizations, but it shows how the confidence debate goes back deep into our culture. I think that both extremes of pure confidence or pure humility are misguided. Instead of rectifying this situation by simply blending the two: becoming somewhat humble, somewhat confident all the time, I believe the answer is to know when to be confident and when to be humble.

    Humble Confidence – Know When to Use It

    I’m going to make another broad generalization. I believe that virtually every relationship you are going to have is going to fit into one of two major archetypes, either master or student. In peer relationships this master/student role may switch frequently, but it is extremely rare that the relationship never leans to one side.

    In the master role, you are displaying confidence to get what you want. This is public speaker, leader or seducer. Being the master has advantages. You have more control and ability to influence from this role.

    The student role is the opposite. You are intentionally displaying humility. This is the student, disciple or follower. Being the student has advantages too. You can learn a lot more in this role and are more likely to win the trust of the other person.

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    Know When to Shut Up and Learn

    If you are a typical Westerner, you are probably already thinking about which role you prefer. Being the leader is great. You get respect and a higher status. Most of all you get a greater degree of control.

    But the problem is that you can’t and shouldn’t always try to be the leader. Trying to assume that role without the skills, resources or status to back it up will lead to conflict. More importantly, there are many times when you purposely want to display humility. Some of the benefits to the student role include:

    • You learn more.
    • Smooths relationships.
    • Makes others more willing to lend a helping hand.

    Knowing when taking the humble route is to your advantage. It is far easier to get mentors and advisors if you use humility rather than arrogance. A small sacrifice to your ego can open up the potential to learn a lot.

    Confidence to Persuade, Humility to Learn

    In reality almost no relationship is as clearly defined as master/student. Within our connections, people have overlapping areas of expertise. I might be an expert in blogging to a non-blogger, but they might be an expert in finance. In each area there are different roles to take.

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    Before any interaction ask yourself what the purpose is. Are you trying to learn or persuade?

    Persuasion requires confidence. If you are trying to sell, instruct or lead you need to display the confidence to match your message. But learning requires humility. You won’t learn anything if you are constantly arguing with your professors, mentors or employers. Taking a dose of humility and temporarily making yourself a student gives you the opportunity to absorb.

    Persuade Less, Learn More

    Persuasion is great for immediate effect, but learning matters over the long-haul. Instead of washing over all your communication with pure confidence, look for opportunities to learn. Persuading someone to follow you may give you an immediate boost of satisfaction, but it doesn’t last. Learning, however, is an investment for the future.

    Whenever I make a connection with someone and realize they have a skill or understanding I want, I am careful to express humility in that area. That means listening with what they say even if I don’t immediately agree and being patient with their response. This method often drastically cuts down the time I need to spend on trial and error to learn by myself.

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    Confidence/Humility Doesn’t Replace Communication Skills

    This approach of selectively using confidence and humility for different purposes doesn’t replace communication skills. Humility isn’t going to work if the other person thinks you’re an irritating whiner. Confidence won’t work if the entire room thinks you are an arrogant jerk. Knowing how to display these two qualities takes practice.

    The next time you are about to enter into an interaction ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you trying to persuade or learn? Depending on which you can take a completely different tact for far better results.

    Featured photo credit: BBH Singapore via unsplash.com

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