Jul 28 2008
The general practice of letting go — usually of something (intangible or tangible/ visible or invisible) is vastly underrated. I’ve offered this little observation countless times and I’ve always gotten a smile from people. Perhaps it’s especially underrated when it comes to talking about it. But here’s what’s interesting: “Letting go” says one thing to people; “elimination” says quite another.
Why write about it?
It’s a little different.
It could be considered essential and unusual.
It’s relevant, though maybe not comfortable to people.
It’s bound to push a (useful) button and might just get people talking.
It’s totally related (connected) to energy, flow and unblocking obstacles.
How many times have you wanted to “boil something down” to the bare essentials — especially to articulate something in a way that can move it forward faster? As simple as that sounds, it can be a challenge. Why? We don’t like getting rid of things we have any attachment to or which might be of value. So we hang onto the clutter, the excess, the unessential.
Reducing, condensing or making something simpler or more efficient requires an act that’s essential to business: elimination. Whether you think of elimination as a skill, a system, a nuisance or a pleasure, in order to be effective, eliminating what we don’t want is a process we must all engage in. Yet we frequently resist it.
That’s because elimination/letting go has been tainted by our cultural conditioning. Treated as off-color, dirty or somehow not appropriate for general conversation, the subject of elimination doesn’t get near the attention that other life processes - like conception, production, creation or locomotion receive. But, elimination could get much better attention, because in real world terms, the failure to eliminate regularly and thoroughly is the cause of illness and dysfunction, not to mention a lot of discomfort - in personal, social, business or societal terms.
Whether we’re talking about our bodies, our habits, or our creativity, our closets, paper files, computers, relationships, warehouses, tool sheds, refrigerators or sewer systems — the more we clean out what isn’t necessary, the easier our movement, the healthier and more functional we are, the better we feel. The world knows all too well that pollution is elimination that went the wrong way.For another perspective about how essential elimination is to our health, let’s look at the process of breathing. That process — respiration — is one-third intake of air, one-third absorption and one-third exhalation or elimination — of the waste product carbon dioxide. We literally cannot live without eliminating the carbon dioxide that builds up from the processing of oxygen in every breath. Add to this of course, are all the other toxins, fluids, etc. we need to get rid of on a daily basis. It’s amazing!
The faster we eliminate what we don’t need, the better off we are in almost every area of our lives. So given that effective elimination is in everyone’s best interest, how much more could we celebrate it, teach it or build it into our infrastructure? Could we make elimination a more common element in our everyday thinking and daily conversation? When we’re laughing, we’re letting something go.
Decisions move things forward and when we’re not clear about what to eliminate, movement is impeded. This is what makes effective decision making is a challenge - especially for companies. Given it’s relatively easy to see someone else’s block or obstacle, the operative question for ourselves becomes “What is it that I need to let go of — right now?”
Isn’t eliminating what’s non-essential (like distraction) exactly what focusing requires? If only we could remember that the potential for higher productivity grows in leaps and bounds when we cut things out - or eliminate - in order to focus. Can we have some fun with elimination or at least look at it differently? What an interesting form of play that would be!
Breathe deep, lighten up and tell the truth.