Enlightened Leadership Blog | When Less Is More | August 2022

We’ve heard the expression less is more. Intellectually, we understand it. Application of the concept can be challenging to navigate. This practice requires self-awareness and discipline that is not easily learned from a book or absorbed in a room.

Wanting More

Let’s face it, we live in a culture where more symbolizes “better”. Better grades, schools, jobs, teams, income, travel, etc. Then, layer on that the digital world of social media and “access”. Some of us end up in a cycle of wanting more.

There is a time and place for more. Pursuing higher education, championship win, or desirable client can be a good thing. Derek Jeter is the perfect example of a famous athlete who wanted more wins and prevailed as one of the most successful, and likeable, Yankee baseball players of all time.

The key is recognizing when more is more and more is less.

Getting Less

Sometimes, when we go for more, we end up getting less, especially when doing so is mindless habit. This applies to areas from communications to business meetings to access.

For example:

  • Communications – Long winded emails that lose someone’s attention after the first sentence. Or too many emails in general. We end up with less engagement.
  • Business Meetings – Virtual or face to face extra, non-essential (and too long) meetings that take up hours of your day when the same objectives could be met via a 30 minutes (or less) call or a three-sentence email. We end up with less efficiency.
  • Access – Allowing others too much access to our calendars, too quick responses to text messages, etc. We end up with less focus.

We can gain more control of our results, and sanity, by making some different choices.

Saying Yes, or No

Knowing when to say yes or no is harder than it sounds. It takes self-awareness, discipline, and in some cases, a willingness to be bolder.

In professional lives, we juggle saying yes or no more frequently than we may realize. Sometimes, a customer wants more, but they refuse to pay for what they desire. That’s their choice. We decide whether to invest in the client or walk away, toward those who value our expertise. In the end, less revenue for a blip in time can improve our customer portfolio and release time to invest in the right clients.

Additionally, working with consultants requires the ability to course correct when appropriate. (coming from a consultant who collaborates with other consultants). Some consultants tell us do this, you need that, etc. when they don’t understand our mission or personality. For example, I recently worked with a consultant who wanted me to change something. Three times the person told me so. Three times I said no. The idea wasn’t meaningful. It was distracting. In this case, less was more. Less communicated the same message. Less was 100 percent the way to go, that time.

Getting More

Overall, getting less, or more, is within our control.

Say yes to what makes sense. Say yes to what adds value. Say yes to what lights us up.

by Jennifer L. Musser