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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The art of great things

Found this blog and enjoy it very much...

A Guide to Self-Reliance Minimalism

I never considered myself a minimalist. I’ve always been a fan of efficiency, of not wasting time or resources, but I always resisted labeling myself as a card-carrying member of the minimalist club.

Looking back, I think my resistance boiled down to this: I hadn’t taken the time to own minimalism. To change the lighting, move the camera, and find a minimalism that was uniquely mine.

Today I found it. And it wasn’t even on purpose.

It just so happened that today two wonderful articles on minimalism appeared in my RSS reader:

Unautomate: Why doing things by hand forces minimalism – from
Go Small Or Go Home: In Praise of Minimalism – from The Art of Manliness
If you have some time, please check these posts out. Even if you’re not a minimalist. Or a man.

It’s strange and amazing how things can come together at just the right time. I read these two articles in quick succession, and suddenly things clicked. I had one of those moments of crystal-clear, heart-pounding insight. But before I explain what I realized, I need to tell you something about myself.

I am a huge – HUGE – believer in the potential of individual people. Individual people do great things every single day, beating the odds and the critics all at once. You and me and the human spirit – we’re amazing. I could go on all day about this. I could even write an entire blog about it … oh wait.

Anyway, as I was saying, I had an incredible, mind-blowing, everything’s connected insight, boiling down to this:

Minimalism is the greatest possible tribute to the power of you.

Here’s what I mean.

As with any idea, there are different types of minimalism. It can be focused on reducing clutter. On streamlining finances. On being a real man – or woman, for that matter. And these are all great ways to think about minimalism. But they’re not for me. They’re not my way. They don’t make me get up on a soapbox and annoy my friends about them.

For me, minimalism comes from a rock-solid, unshakable, 100% belief that you are enough. That’s what “self-reliance minimalism” is to me.

“Thinking about men I admired, it dawned on me that most had a quiet contempt towards any excess of material possessions. Their expertise and confidence were displayed by the fact that they did not require much to live successfully.” – from “Go Small Or Go Home”

It means:

Having a conviction that you don’t need stuff to survive or succeed.
Knowing that you don’t need to hide behind convolutions and equivocations.
Knowing that your own mind and body are your two greatest, unlimited, inexhaustible, and infinitely renewable resources.
Having the courage to say, “I don’t need this to get me where I’m going.”
Never, ever allowing your potential to go to waste.
Getting rid of anything that gets in the way of YOU doing great things.
Now all this may lead to things like clearing clutter, reducing friction, and buying less, but for me, what’s most important is where all these actions come from. That’s what motivates me.

Becoming a Self-Reliance Minimalist

“Making things harder isn’t a bad thing. When we must do things ourselves, and it costs us in time and effort, it forces us to consider whether it’s worth doing at all.” – from “Unautomate”

If you’ve read this far, you know that this is something that clicked for me today. It’s new territory for me. I haven’t had time to test it or refine it – which is great, because instead of preaching about it, I’ll need to actually live it.

Will you help me put this into action? Here’s what I’m trying to do:

Focus on acquiring abilities, not tools. Instead of buying a bunch of gadgets to help me get a job done, let’s spend more time learning the skills behind the job. Tools are just things, but skills become part of us.
Get out of the “just in case” trap. Let’s stop hoarding stuff (money, books, guarantees, etc.) in the name of “What if?” and have the courage to rely on our ability to deal with crises.
Save with a purpose. Instead of saving money (or energy) just because someone said it was a good idea, let’s save with a clear goal in mind. Let’s spend less money now, with the express intent of using it on something specific later. Let’s save energy here, so we can make better use of it there.
Get rid of the redundant. Minimalism is usually about getting rid of the unnecessary. I say get rid of the redundant. Remember, your primary resource is yourself. Toss anything that simply repeats your own abilities.
Learn to trust yourself. To me, getting rid of stuff is an act of extreme self-confidence. It’s a declaration that, whatever happens, you can face it – and conquer it – without a bunch of stuff to hide behind.

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