This week has been all about slowing down.
With big changes happening in life and in my business, things had started to feel like they were spinning a bit out of control.
For some time, I have been meaning to read Erin Loechner's new book - Chasing Slow. I have loved following Erin's blog for years - Design for Mankind. Like so many others, I have follower her journey for years. But to be able to sit down, and read her story all at once, was nothing short of eye opening.
The life of running a small business is many things....
Without set structure, set hours, set responsibilities - things can quickly spin out of control, and consume you.
That was the point I had found myself in the past month. A place where I needed a moment to rest. A moment to breathe. A moment to reflect. A moment to regroup.
But if I were to stop. Stop and take the breath I needed so bad, wouldn't it all fall apart?
Wouldn't everyone find out that I am just making this up as I go along? Completely lost?
Wouldn't I risk not being able to support my family? Couldn't I loose it all?
Yes. But probably no.
So earlier this week I stopped. And I read Erin's story.
A story that is raw, true, and hit closer to home than I had expected.
With the fad of minimalism growing each day, we are all on our own journey of some kind to find less. Less work. Less debt. Less stress.
But the real journey of finding less is a lot messier than you would expect.
One of the biggest take aways that really hit home for me, was actually a story Erin shared that I have heard before. The story of the Mexican fisherman. A story that teaches us what we already know - that when we are reaching for more, and more, and more - isn't it all just to have less in the end?
Here is the story...
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
Too often we are only seeking more to in the end, find a slower life with less. Isn't that the American Dream? Work hard for years to support your family, to then be able to retire, and slow down, and rest.
But couldn't we have all of that now?
We can...if we only choose to shift our perspective.
As a business owner, it is easy to get wrapped up in constantly saying YES.
Why wouldn't I say yes? Saying yes to a project means money for my family. More money means more things, more experiences, ore of what we want.
But when I really stop and think about it...when I really stop and think about what we want, what we need...all we need is time. And there is simply never enough time.
Erin's story is inspiring in an unexpected and refreshing way. With the internet now a days, we hear constantly of the mundane blogger climbing to ultimate success. 3 figure months, opportunities coming out their ears.
But what are they losing?
It is safe to say that Erin is far from not famous. She is a household name. But her choice to take less - less fame, less fortune - enabled her to have more of the most precious thing that we are really all seeking at the end of the day - time.
I encourage you to take a look at your own life. What are you striving for? And do you really need it?
I could take on more design projects, hire employees, and grow my company. Or I could take on a little less, keep working from home with my dog, get to spend more time with my family, and get to spend a little more time here with you, figuring out how to find a life that is more inspired, more intentional.
Sometimes what you really need....what you really want...you already have. And maybe having more, will only muddy up the beauty of it all.
Erin's Truths from Chasing Slow that really hit home:
"Happiness = What you decide it to be, no more, no less."
"I begin to learn the importance of acceptance, of living in the present tense. I begin to learn to allow things to happen as they are, rather than how I want them to be. I begin to learn, quite simply, the are of peace."
Thinking about living, is not the same as living.
Many is measurable. (I have many shoes)
More is immeasurable (I want more shoes - but how many??)
More is never enough
"When you feel this sort of completely lacking, you see the world in a state of less - and not the appealing kind. You see what you do not have, and you don't see what you do."
"Sometimes, when we're not looking for what we want, we find what we need."
"Here is the secret of subtraction. It doesn't matter what you remove. What matters is that you stop adding it back."
"Who could have known that more would make us feel like less."
"Ask a bird how to fly, and it might tell you to remove the weight from your wings."
"Without grace, minimalism is another metric for perfection."
"Chasing slow is still a chase."
""9 bad days + 1 good day = 1 good day."
"I used to think the opposite of control was chaos. But it's not. The opposite of control is surrender."
"Surrendering control is, of course, the easy part. Surrendering expectation is more muddied."
"The answer to a happy marriage is the same as the answer to a happy life. It is simple, and it is not at all simple: Give Freely."
"Authenticity is not the watering down of your message to help someone else accept your words. Authenticity, I think, is simply trying to find the kindest way to tell the whole truth."
"One's tension enables another's ease.
Ones's strength allows another's softness.
One's firmness offers another's flexibility.
When we choose to be authentic in our relationships, when we choose to stand firm, we are offering a strong base. There is tension in this, but is it the precise amount of tension that another might need to soften, to flex, to change if they'd like."
"Wisdom is little more than knowing what works for you, and forgetting the rest."
"...the imperfection lies only in my perspective."
"We are doing ourselves no favors when we look to the crowd to tell us where we are."
"I see now how detrimental it is to embrace that parts of ourselves that make sense, that are tidy, that are justifiable, and ignore the parts of ourselves that are not."
"I am pursuing minimalism. I know this to be true. I want less, and I want simplicity, and I want to spend my days connecting and caring, not consuming and completing."
Consider where your true needs are this week. Your true desires in life. And read Erin's book.