#29: Minimalism as a leader

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Today, I would like to talk about minimalism as a leader. Have you noticed the more things you have to do, the more stressed you are? Do you remember the life you had when you were a student or when you were younger? You didn’t have a lot of money, and so you weren’t afraid of losing it. You didn’t have a fancy house with great furniture, so you weren’t afraid of losing that you probably didn’t have a fancy holiday or cars, you didn’t have a status. You lived in a world where you had many opportunities, but you also didn’t have many problems; you lived more carefree.

The more you have, the more work you have, the more stress you have, and the less space you have to rest for creativity and for things to emerge. I have come to realize when you are always on the run, and you don’t take the time to pause, you start not to feel things anymore. You get to the point of neither not listening to your body nor paying attention to your emotions.

Do you ever wonder why minimalism can be great for you both at work and at home and how you can apply it? Let me tell you a story of what happened in one of the organizations I used to work for. They had a new CEO, and that new CEO wanted to do a great job. He has had a lot of success in the past. He was a lot of opportunities, and he had many ideas which he transformed into dos for his teams. The organization’s people were already exhausted, especially during the corona crisis. Suddenly, they had a lot more stuff to do and many problems to solve to keep business running. Everyone was running in all directions; a lot of projects are started but never finished.

When I became the CEO in my previous organization, people were busy, and we had just seen a drop in our revenue and profits. We were getting ready for our digital transformation otherwise were risking a disruption in our market. Hiring more people was not an option since our profits were declining. I had to use a different approach.

I decided to stop 70% of our products, pay attention to the remaining 30% and the digital transformation. Immediately, we started seeing a rise in our profits and revenue. When Steve Jobs joined Apple, he did the same. He stopped the production of some products and focused on a few.

The world has many opportunities. If you decide to jump on all of them, you will sink in all these opportunities. It’s time we learn to make our decisions and be bold enough to say NO to the rest.

One day, Bill Gates’ dad asked Bill Gates and Warren Buffett what contributed to their successes. They both had a similar answer, FOCUS. In a world where we have many triggers, choices, opportunities, the winners will be the ones who focus and say no to almost everything and that is why I believe we should apply minimalism at work and at home.

As a leader, I have applied minimalism to my recurrent expenses. When I became CEO, I upgraded neither my house nor my car, and I didn’t subscribe to those expensive clubs. I wanted to maintain my freedom to say NO to things that wouldn’t contribute to my happiness. Instead of increasing my recurrent expenditure, I did fun things like going for more holidays. One of the advantages of being a minimalist is, in case you lose your job, you can always stop doing the things you are used to as you look for another job.

I remember a point in life when I was so overwhelmed with everything at home and at work. I was driving to work, and I had to pull off from the road because I had a breakdown. We had so many children activities going on every weekend. After the breakdown, I went back home and stayed for three days to reenergize and some hard decisions. We agreed to cut down some children’s activities. For instance, my son stopped going to musical activities, and now he has found his way back to music by himself. He plays in a band, sings, and plays the piano.

Minimalists have a trend of unstuffing their lives, and I love doing that myself. Cleaning up your garage, looking at everything you have in your house, and starting to give things away, or throwing things away to create more space, in turn, creates more space in your head. I believe that the more space you have around you, the more space you have in your head, for spontaneity, for finding your energy, looking at things to emerge, creativity, and analyzing things.

Many people have no time to breathe and no time to be with their loved ones. That’s why I’m advocating for minimalism. Minimalism gives you more focus, happiness, freedom, and impact. It is time you go from the fear of missing out (FOMO) to the joy of missing out on things (JOMO)

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