SIMPLICITY – THE KEY TO REGAIN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE
Life in our current day and age has become a very complex undertaking. My natural inclination is to always be in charge and have control over my circumstances. There were however times, where I totally lost the plot and simply could not get to grips with the bare essentials to reach intended objectives. I am by nature very performance driven and results oriented, thriving on numbers, facts and statistics that are upward moving under the guise of leaving a legacy. Now let me hasten to say that there is nothing wrong to be results oriented and driven by an ambition to succeed in life. It is all about the motivation of the heart. If misplaced, it can become self–serving. As Rich Mullins puts it so aptly “If your life is motivated by your ambition to leave a legacy, what you’ll probably leave is a legacy of ambition.” Life is not all about doing but by being and becoming.
About ten years ago, I was in the kind of space where everything looked good from the outside, but I was driven on the inside by a sense of proving something at all costs and felt obligated to respond to any aspect that triggered my senses. It resulted in me attracting so much attention and responsibilities on myself. It even gave me a false sense of affirmation because I had some impressive titles behind me… President of this, Chairman of that, CEO of the other, Director of another and Commissioner of whatever. There came a point in my life, where I ultimately developed a sense of anxiety to regain control of the real me.
One of the resources that really played an important part in helping to shape my destiny for this phase of my life is a book called Half Time by Bob Buford. I later on did a nine month programme with the Half Time Institute where I journeyed with three other professionals under the guidance of a very capable coach. This was arguably one of the turning points in my life as I had to recalibrate my life and respond to this critical question – how can I translate my successes in life into significance?
One of the key ingredients to this new approach was the aspect of simplicity. It is a sense of truly finding joy in pacing yourself correctly, knowing how to slow down and when to accelerate, what needs to be scaled down, which things you should commit to and simplifying issues to free up your heart and mind from unnecessary clutter. Simplicity is not only about clearing your dairy, having your desk all neat and organised, being on time for every engagement without rushing, less financial pressure and satisfactorily managing the competing demands of significant others. Simplicity as explained by Jeff Spadafora is all about “ A deep desire to create mental, emotional and spiritual room to breathe easy. It’s an emotional detachment from things and results and a reattachment to God and people.”
PRINCIPLES FOR GAINING CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE
In my leadership journey, I went through the following hard-learned experiences that challenged some serious paradigms as I started to implement it in my own life:
1. Do what you do best; drop the rest. Fixing our weaknesses has in many respects become a societal obsession with a very limited degree of success. Thrive on your strengths and do not waste too much time on lamenting about your deficiencies.
2. Know when to say no. The more successful you are, the more you’ll be asked to help other people. Pursue your own mission and not that of someone else.
3. Delegate. You cannot do everything and you should not even try; it will lead to mediocre output.
4. Work with people you like. As much as possible, work with people that add value to your life and not those that drain energy away from you.
5. Protect your personal time. Develop a daily habit in having a time for quiet reflection to deliberately reflect on your life and ascertain whether it is still in balance. Isaiah 30 : 15 “ … in quietness and confidence shall be your strength …”
6. Set clear timetables. If you do not set clear timetables for the accomplishment of your objectives in life, it will just remain a hollow slogan.
7. Downsize. To what extent is your time and energy drained by a club membership, a fourth house in the mountains, five cars, a leadership position on every community organisation….? There is nothing wrong with any of these things but never allow anything that encroaches on your ability to be in control of your life.
8. Deliberately plan for me–time. This is a time to play and enjoy yourself with your loved ones without being coerced and forced into it. It is one of the major indicators that demonstrates whether you are really in charge of your life.
Admittedly, old habits die hard and warrants utmost dedication to bring about real and meaningful change. The upside however is that if you simplify your life, you will even develop a fresh appreciation for the ordinary yet beautiful things in life; the beautiful sunset, the flowers that bloom in your garden, the smile of a new born baby, the sounds of the birds in the early morning…. Finding beauty in the simple things in life keeps my attitude healthy and reminds me about how fortunate I am to have a family that loves and respects me, that I still have access to the basic necessities in life, that I am living in a beautiful country notwithstanding all its challenges, that I have a very vibrant support system in the faith community and loyal friends whose counsel and wisdom I value.
To regain control of your life also takes a substantial amount of unlearning and reprogramming from the old paradigms that are holding us captive. As I became liberated from these old paradigms, it freed up a lot of spare capacity that I now utilize to also invest in the lives of others. This prompted me to start doing these weekly blogs and podcasts; making a small contribution on a weekly basis to share some insights, clarity and perspectives to enhance the leadership endeavours of others. It also opened up many opportunities for public ministry in conferences and high impact meetings as well as personal coaching and mentorship of emerging leaders.
May I kindly encourage you that during the next few days, you commit to at least three things that you will undertake to simplify your life and follow diligently through with it. This will create new capacity in your life that can energize you to focus on the things that really matter in your life.
It is time to take charge of your life again!