It’s All in the Picking

It’s All in the Picking (1,191)

June 28th, 2011

Based on the title, you will be happy to know that this particular jonathot is not a discourse on either the banjo or the nose.

No, the picking I’m speaking of here is a simple choice that needs to be made every day in our lives to assure us of the simplicity that garners productivity. For let me make one thing perfectly clear—without simplicity, there is no productivity. Complicated processes do not bring about successful results, but rather, bog us down in traffic jams of inefficiency.

When I left on January 1st, 2011, to begin touring the US, I knew two things for sure—first, I’m getting older and I need to take advantage of all of my faculties which are still intact, and use them as intelligently as possible. Secondly, to achieve that first goal, I must do everything in my power tode-pretzel” my life and bring everything I do into freewheeling practice. Complication is what makes us believe that we are unable to achieve our purposes. Complication is what little-minded people do to stop big ideas.

So I will tell you a simple process that I believe works across the board and will aid you in making choices about those things that pop up every day in life. It boils down to two words: shrink or expand. You have to decide to do one or the other to progress your situation to better conclusions. Some things need to be shrunk and some things need to be expanded. Knowing when to do this is the essence of human excellence.

We have overrated the attribute called perseverance. Certainly there are times when a bit of tenacity is necessary to see things through. But honestly, what we call faithfulness is often just stubbornness—to follow a path that has proven to be unfruitful. What we need is the ability to decide to shrink or expand our efforts in the moment to further accentuate the power of our thrust.

Some things are easy. If you’re going to lose weight, for instance, you shrink your portions and you expand your movement. Now, let’s look at what happens if you do the opposite. If you expand your portions and shrink your movement, you get exactly the opposite result—weight gain.

I’ll use my jonathots as an example. When I began to write this column, I decided to do it daily. I observed people rolling their eyes, assuming I would fail at such an overwrought effort. I had to make a decision. Should I shrink down to a once-a-week blog, or should I expand my horizons by making every little thing in my life important enough to discover something larger from it? 1,191 essays later, my decision to expand has garnered me this body of work.

You can use the decision in friendships. Relationships with folks do go through seasons of doldrums. Don’t push it. Shrink back for a period of time and let people grow without you. If the emotions are real, you will rediscover each other and the results will be expansive.

It goes on and on. Do I shrink? Do I expand?

And even though we think shrinking is a negative profile, it is important sometimes to shrink back from attitudes that have caused us nothing but grief. For instance, I used to get very angry over being mistreated by others. It was like I had a magic number in my head about what intensity people should have in dealing with me and loving me. This mythical number was not of their making, but of my demand. But I discovered very quickly that these friends didn’t agree—and just by shrinking my “expectation number,” I have become more suitable for human consumption.

But by the same token, I used to think that people needed to work hard to get my approval. I felt it was their responsibility to “sell themselves” in my marketplace. It was foolish. I have now made it easier—expanded my borders to include more people, more ideas and more cultures—which has granted me a new wealth of friends and cohorts.

It is all about deciding whether to shrink or whether to expand. If you fuss with details and try to make things more difficult, you will eventually end up still at the same juncture where you began, which is always: “Should I? Or not?”

Can we simplify this much without appearing to be simpletons? I would much rather be a fool for the sake of peaceful coexistence with my fellow-man than I would to be an ardent disciple of complexity.

Shrink or expand. Try it. You will be astounded at how placing such a gentle demand on yourself relieves the pressure of trying too hard to be adult.

Published in: on June 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm  Comments (1)  
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