Simplify: The Mother of all Power Tools

(Click here for the audio version of this article:)

We buy power tools to increase our efficiency and effectiveness. We do this for our personal lives, we do this for our work groups, and we do this for our organizations. Oftentimes, power tools are devices like smartphones, video conferencing, self-propelled lawn mowers, and on and on. They have become cheaper to buy and easier to use

However, the mother of all power tools is not a device, but rather a belief. It’s the belief in the power of simplifying our lives.

When we simplify our lives, we increase our chances of being efficient and effective because we’re not letting our time and energy and talents to be dissipated over a ton of unnecessary things.

Here are some ways you might consider simplifying your life.

Simplify Your Stuff

I’m a keeper of memories.

I keep notes and little mementos and books and tapes and CDs and DVDs and audiocassettes and video cassettes from a wide range of life experiences. Over the past 35 years I’ve collected and held on to boxes and boxes of things and more than 300 books. About every two years I pull all of my stuff off of shelves in my house and empty the boxes on to my bed. Then I force myself to look at every item and decide if I really want to keep it. I go through every book on my bookshelves and ask myself if I still want it. A few days ago I got rid of four boxes of stuff, three bags of paper, and about 60 audiocassettes and 40 video cassettes, which was good because I no longer have an audio cassette or video cassette player. You can donate music and books to your local library, and they can resell them and the money goes to the library.

It’s amazing how that activity freed up space in my brain and space in my house.

Simplify Your Spending

It’s wonderful how much stress we take out of our system when we stop spending beyond our means. When we save money and refuse to buy things that we don’t have the money to pay for, we simplify our lives. Personal debt complicates our lives. Saving money simplifies our lives.

Several years ago I worked with a client I couldn’t stand because I absolutely needed the money as the world economy almost collapsed in 2008 – 2010. I took on a project that was a nightmare, but paid pretty well.

From that I learned the enormous value of simplifying my spending. When you live within your means you don’t have to take on work that you can’t stand. You get to work with only the kind of people you want to work with. It’s amazing how nice an old car can look when it’s all paid off.

Look at where your money goes. Where can you simplify your spending?

Simplify What You Eat and Drink

Sugar, grease, and dough have a way of taking over our lives. It’s incredible how fast cookies, brownies, ice cream, cupcakes, candy, pizza, and beer can work together to complicate our health in ways that eat up, no pun intended, our energy.

Like a tsunami gaining momentum, bad eating habits can overwhelm the benefits of any past diet. Simplifying our eating habits is a daily challenge for many of us, but the benefits can be tremendous in terms of increased efficiency and effectiveness.

Simplify Your Relationships

When you carry bad relationships (defined as someone who drives you crazy and where you feel worse off after you see him or her as opposed to before you see him or her) around, it’s like carrying a giant backpack of rocks everywhere you go.

Do yourself an enormous favor.

Look at the non-family relationships in your life. Those are the people you hang around with by choice. If you identify one, or more, of those relationships that is eating up your time and energy in a negative way, then just quietly slip out of the relationship and move on. Don’t make a big deal about it. That would eat up even more of your time and energy. Just move on without that person in your regular routine.

Simplify Any Loose Ends

If there is anything in your life that is causing you to lose sleep, just simply clean it up. If you cheat on your travel expenses by fifty dollars a month or you do something that bothers you and it feels like a child tugging on your coat all the time, then acknowledge it within yourself and stop doing it. Cleaning up those loose ends can allow you to sleep better at night, and can free up more time and energy for you to be more efficient and more effective every day.

Simplify Your Website

Okay, one more. Since almost every organization no matter how big or how small it is has a website, I encourage you to consider simplifying your website. I have a theory that simpler websites are better than complicated websites.

Think of a website like a soda machine. You walk up, you look at the options, and you press a button. Very simple. How simple is your website?

One of my favorite websites is www.apple.com. Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world, and you can see everything they have to offer on their website like you’re walking up to a soda machine and pushing a button.

Conclusion

The mother of all power tools is to simplify your life. This will allow you to focus on the things you really want to focus on and apply your strengths and passions in a way that will really make a significant difference in the world.

Be Okay with Letting Other People Help You

(Click here for the audio version of this article: http://www.thecoughlincompany.com/cc_vol15_7b/.)

(Author’s Note: This article is dedicated to people around the world who are willing to help other people, but who are not as willing to let other people help them.)

All my life I’ve interacted with Helpers.

Helpers are those people who go out of their way to help other people achieve what they want to achieve. Helpers provide help by listening to other people share their concerns, frustrations, anger, hopes, and dreams. Helpers help by offering suggestions, and providing encouragement and sound advice. Helpers help by jumping in and getting actively involved in working shoulder-to-shoulder with other people. Helpers help by providing people with assistance in the form of introductions to other people. Helpers help by providing people with a loan to get started.

When I was growing up I interacted with Helpers who were family members, teachers, coaches, Cub Scout leaders, adults in my neighborhood, and friends of mine. As an adult, when I was a high school teacher I saw many, many Helpers in action. They were my fellow teachers and administrators. These were people who dedicated the vast majority of their lives to helping other people.

Over the past 20 years I’ve served as an Executive Coach for many executives and managers in businesses and not-for-profit organizations. The vast majority of these people are Helpers. They work long and hard to help other people achieve their desired outcomes. As a community volunteer, I’ve seen incredible adult, young adult, and teenage volunteers who were amazing Helpers for other people. They gave freely of their time, talent, and energy.

Helpers Make a Huge Difference

It’s been my observations that Helpers make a huge difference in the world. They help to make individuals, families, communities, organizations, and societies better. They are critically important to many different types of successes.

Oftentimes when a person looks back on his or her life, he or she will recall a Helper who made an enormously positive difference on the road to him or her achieving something special. The person admires and appreciates the Helper in many different ways.

The Big Problem Many Helpers Face

On the road to helping so many other people, Helpers often develop one major problem. They stop allowing other people to help them. Helpers develop a very high degree of self-esteem based on helping other people. They get their sense of self-worth from helping others. That’s not the problem.

The problem is they often start to feel that their sense of self-esteem will go down if they let other people help them. They build a wall of pride around the idea that they can help other people, but they don’t need help from anybody else. They believe they can go it alone and solve every problem in their life on their own. Or they develop a sense of shame if they ever ask someone else for help, as though it makes them a loser or a weak person.

This big problem is not based on gender, height, race, size, or personality. I have seen this problem in young people and old people, men and women, and in people of all sizes, personalities, and races.

You are Not Your Labels

You are not your title, your income, the size of your house, your standing in your community, your friends’ perception of you, a Magnificent Mom, a Dependable Dad, or The Friend Everyone Can Count on for Positive Energy. Those are just labels.

You are a human being. Consequently, at times you are going to get burned out, bummed out, frustrated, angry, or confused. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how big you are, or how tough you think you are. There will be times when you lose or get frustrated.

You might lose money or your job or your kids’ respect. It doesn’t matter what your title is or how much money you have or how respected you are by other people. There will be times when you need help from other people. You might be frustrated by the kids you have, or by not having kids. You might be frustrated by the job you have, or by not having a job. You might be frustrated that you are young, or you might be frustrated that you are old.

How you handle those moments will greatly affect your life. In some cases, it will determine whether you can move forward in a healthy way, or fall into a very unhealthy state of mind.

If you turn inward and isolate yourself from every other person, you can easily slide into an extremely negative emotion such as shame, jealousy, anxiety, depression, rage, hopelessness, or helplessness. If you try to always take on life by yourself, those negative emotions can become engrained within you. They can even reach a point of becoming irreversible. You might give up hope because you never let anyone truly help you.

Let Other People Help You

Please, please, please don’t try to take on life all by yourself. It is perfectly okay to turn to a person and say, “I need someone to listen to me. Do you have time today or tomorrow when I can talk with you?” If the person says no, then turn to someone else. Don’t act tough and think it’s shameful to ask for help. Turn to people who are older than you and younger than you. Turn to people with bigger titles and bigger incomes, and to people with smaller titles and smaller incomes. Turn to older people for help, and turn to younger people for help.

Stop acting like you should have all the answers, and you can’t learn from somebody else. Stop thinking like you will look better in the eyes of other people by never admitting you need help from other people. Stop feeling that it’s shameful to ever admit you need help. Please, please, please stop doing that.

Two Great Dangers Every Person Faces

I think there are two great dangers every person faces.

The first danger is to stop trying to help other people.

You have talents and passions that can make a great difference in the lives of other people. Apply those talents and passions. You can make a huge difference in your family, community, organization, and society. Be willing to listen to other people. Be willing to let them yell or cry or shake their heads in frustration. Be willing to offer a suggestion. Be willing to work with people shoulder-to-shoulder. Be willing to help.

The second danger is to stop trying to let other people help you.

You are human. You can benefit greatly and in healthy ways by letting other people listen to you, and then considering their advice. It’s great to have self-confidence and to be courageous, but it’s foolish and dangerous to take on life all by yourself.

Please, please, please avoid those two dangers.

Be willing to be a Helper and a Helpee. Both roles are important to having a healthy and meaningful life.

The Three-Part Approach to Optimizing Every Meaningful Interaction

Here is a link to my new article: The Three-Part Process for Optimizing Every Meaningful Interaction.

Here is a link to my new video series, which has both new and old footage, called The Any Person Mindset Video Series. Each video explains an idea on how any person can make a significant difference in an organization.