The rest is just sand

A reminder to not let the little things take up all the space in your life so you can focus on the things that really matter.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

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You are your own, best job creator

Every time I hear someone (by which I mean politicians) use the phrase “job creator” or “we need to create jobs so people can get back to work”, I want to reach through the media and give them a quick slap to the back of the head. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Seth Godin, or Clay Shirky, or Chris Guillebeau, or Hugh MacLeod, or …., but it seems to me it is this very emphasis on telling people that someone else needs to create a job for them that limits the possibilities.

Luckily, I’m not the only one that thinks that.

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Everything in moderation (including moderation)

One of the most common pieces of advice many people hear is something along the lines of, “Everything in moderation.”  Of course, this advice usually comes in response to over indulgence in something that the advice giver thinks is bad for you.

“Beer is fine, but in moderation.”

“It’s OK to watch TV / play video games / whatever, just do it in moderation.”

While this makes some sense at first glance,  moderation in everything is a sure path to mediocrity. Unless, of course, moderation itself is practiced in moderation. Passionate pursuit of anything is, almost by definition, not moderate.

So, instead of “everything” in moderation, pursue in moderation only those things that do not help you achieve your purpose, your passion. We all need to take a break at times, to let off steam or to just veg (or geek) out.

To those things that are your passion, your purpose, devote as much time and energy as you can. Passion is no place for moderation.

Small, a great destination

Rework - Why Grow?
Illustration from Rework

In their book Rework, the guys from 37signals make a compelling argument for staying small in a chapter called “Why grow?” My favorite quote from that chapter:

Small is not just a stepping stone. Small is a great destination in itself.

And this isn’t just empty talk from someone trying to sell books, this is how they actually run the company. From a recent article on Fast Company, here is 37signals CEO Jason Fried (@jasonfried):

I’m a fan of growing slowly, carefully, methodically, of not getting big just for the sake of getting big. I think that rapid growth is typically of symptom of… there’s a sickness there. There’s a great quote by a guy named Ricardo Semler, author of the book Maverick. He said that only two things grow for the sake of growth: businesses and tumors. We have 35 employees at 37signals. We could have hundreds of employees if we wanted to–our revenues and profits support that–but I think we’d be worse off.

This is kind of a follow up to yesterday’s post, Living life for a living, which got me thinking again about the 37signals philosophy. What it really comes down to, it seems, is the difference between a businessperson – who wants to run a business that makes money; big is better – and a person in business – who wants to build a business around something they do; the bigger the business gets, the less they get to do what they got into business for in the first place.