On April the 9th, the morning after a very late flight in from a week walking in the Azores, I met Dave Cornthwaite. I imagine to quite a few who read this blog it will be a familiar name. Dave is an energetic man in his thirties, with sunny hair and an equally sunny disposition.
He is responsible for Say Yes More. It is difficult to succinctly define Say Yes More, other than by saying it is a movement, a global community that has spawned the Yes Tribe and Yestival, and has inspired and continues to support people in redesigning their life. Central to his, and the community's, ethos around doing and the benefits of saying yes to things, is Dave’s Expedition "1000 project"; a “career” plan to undertake twenty-five journeys, each one a minimum of 1000 miles long and each one using a different form of non-motorised transport.
We met on his long boat in the Limehouse Marina on a perfect, warm spring day. The reason I found myself in this idyllic patch of E14 is because I signed up for a workshop on Making a Living from your Passions, aimed at those looking to swap a “normal” working life for something more fulfilling.
The key difference between me and the other members of the group is that I am further down the line in terms of quitting the regular world of 9 to 5 work. Yet, despite my head start, it transpired during a very open and honest discussion that I am still a little way off finding the right path. Although my goal of "redesigning" my life in 2017 is certain, it is not clear to me how it should actually look.
It's time for a cull.
This year, in which I have embarked on the process of redesigning my life, I am looking for the money-earning side of it to balance more neatly with what I love and enjoy, whether it's my activities or my family life. Excitingly this has led me to jump into a number of interesting projects, short-term consultancy roles, start-ups, voluntary work, as well as this web site and blog which continues to be both the engine driving me forward and the rails that guide me.
All well and good whilst each of these potentially rewarding avenues gets the required attention, but this is not the case. Having been in Belgrade for a week over Easter, catching up with friends and family and I did not have a chance to slow down and fully evaluate the advice from Dave Cornthwaite;
“Pick the three things that would make for the better story and go at them with all your energy” were his precise words.
Now, back into the routine and peaceful thinking time of the school run (at least in one direction) I have had the chance to reflect on these words and I have made a list of all those projects, ideas and jobs vying for my mind's equity and I am grading them according to how interesting they are or could be.
It is time for a cull.
I am currently dividing my attention between at least eleven “projects” or potential leads and none of them is really getting the devotion it deserves. Over the next couple of weeks I am going to start chipping away at this marble mountain and being a little more restrained in what I do. One consequence of this pruning exercise is that I hope to have the time to post more often on this blog.
In the meantime I have written these words on a post-it note and stuck it to my laptop: “You don’t have to do everything at once”; this time a parting comment from Emma Taylor (an integral part of the SayYesMore team), who also took part in the session. Wise words indeed. Words that resound from the Kanban board of meeting room.
This is nothing other than the principle of limiting work in progress, a crucial element of successful production from the car assembly lines of 1950s Toyota to the agile development of a Silicon Valley tech giant.
A principle that I understand, that I have worked with. A principle that I struggled and often failed to get fully embraced by colleagues in previous professional roles. These words that are familiar to me.
“You don’t have to do everything at once”. I recently warned a friend of the dangers of taking on too much. I think I may have used these exact words. And yet... it's funny how hard it can be to rationally analyse oneself. And its somewhat ironic that I need to say NO more.
IF you want to Say YES More follow these links:
- Visit the SayYesMore web site and make your life more memorable.
- Check out Dave Cornthwaite's workshops.
- Join the YesTribe on Facebook.