Peter Drucker has suggested that businesses organize their abandonment of business and practices that they never would have started doing if they knew when they start what they know now. This is my effort at 2018 renunciations for SKMurphy, Inc and in my personal life.
This effort has been inspired not only by Peter Drucker but by David Cain in a recent blog post on “The Joy of Opting Out.” Here are some relevant excerpts:
“Most people will graze on chips when they’re around, a few at a time, but I tend to fall into a whirlpool of near-continuous chip eating. I spoil my appetite. I park near snack tables and mingle from there.
In a narrow sense, my goal over the holidays is to learn what it’s like to leave a nearby bowl of chips untouched. But this campaign in conscious chip non-eating is really a way of practicing a much more fundamental skill, one that makes life easier in virtually every area. Western Buddhism has a great word for it: renunciation.
Renunciation is one of ten trainable qualities known traditionally as the paramis (the others being generosity, resolve, patience, morality, effort, insight, loving-kindness, equanimity and truthfulness).
I think of these qualities as ten often-weak muscles each of us can strengthen during day-to-day life if we look for opportunities. The stronger these traits get, the less tricky your collisions become with certain recurring experiences that make life difficult: laziness, ill will, greed, egotism, and so on.
The stronger we are at renunciations, the easier it is to refrain from making tempting but costly choices in every area of life. By practicing chip non-eating, or any other specific form of renunciations, you’re simultaneously getting better at avoiding wasteful purchases, going to bed on time, declining a third drink, and otherwise quitting while you’re ahead, whatever the context—because they’re all the same skill.”
David Cain in “The Joy of Opting Out“
Making predictions: seeing possibilities, in particular potential opportunities and failures, is very important. But the longing for certainty can turn one of these into a prediction that causes me to abandon the preparation for other contingencies.
Sticking to what I know: the risks are twofold, both foreclosing possibilities, and seeing things as they no longer are. When I visited home after college I noticed that when I asked my father for directions he sometimes gave references to a landscape that no longer existed. He would say “turn left where the old Katz Drugstore used to be and then go past where Tillman school was before they turned it into condos.” It’s hard to see things as they are now if you cling to the way things were. The Silicon Valley of the 1980’s or the 1990’s much less ten years ago is not the Silicon Valley of today. Some things have been lost, others gained. But it’s different now and it requires me to let go of what I “know” to see what’s really there.
Computer Solitaire: I now believe that taking a break should mean standing up from my computer and taking a walk, reading a book, or doing something that is a real change from staring at a computer screen.
Anger: I have started to substitute getting angry with someone for silently repeating the following prayer to remind myself that we all have shortcomings: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
“Prayer is also anesthesia, so we can cut deeper, and clean out our wounds.”
Yahia Lababidi in “Aphorisms on Art, Morality, Spirit“
Related Blog Posts
- Some Unsolicited Advice From David Cain
- More Unsolicited Advice From David Cain
- Christmas Eve 2016
- A Childhood Memory or Two
- Uncle’s Day
Photo Credit: Filippo Minelli “Silence“