Applied minimalism in the age of unlimited options!

Every subject of study has two facets: theory and application. We cram (while respectfully trying to understand) a lot of theory while we’re in school and continue doing that in college. If we’re driven enough to attend the lectures (in Asia, particularly in India) or stay awake (the rest of the world) that is.

Take the case of business schools. Most B-school grads are high on theory and low on application. The premier schools out there require that you have at least 2-3 years’ experience before you can apply. Which is great. Just that none of the experience would actually aid in learning all that theory or cracking the assigned projects during the tenure of the course. Here’s the best part — you’ll be placed at an esteemed organization with a fat pay packet, “managing” a bunch of associates who basically do nothing but eating the dust off the shelves and files or the road. Or perhaps you’re one of those yourself!

If you zoom out of the B-school scenario, you’ll notice something peculiar. The whole damn world is like that! High on theory, low on application. The ones who are not are essentially the people whom you’re working for, and let me tell you, even they struggle at times! I call that “learned helplessness.”

And here’s my theory behind all the “learned helplessness” out there. Consume less content. Learn the simplest strategy that will take you the least time and effort to get things done and just do the damn thing! That’s it! All you need to get unstuck and moving in the direction you should be headed to.

Let me be clear — I’m not suggesting you should be sloppy or not care about “quality.” Just that our focus on “quality” or “perfection” is driving us crazy and not allowing us to deliver the results! The reason is that learning theory is fun, entertaining and gives you a lot of hope. The application is where the rubber hits the road and sure enough, you’ll hit an obstacle soon. And since that obstacle wasn’t really a topic of discussion in whatever theory you were taught, you’re basically stuck and feeling hopeless.

Now, this could be as simple as focusing on some of your biggest priorities or simply marketing yourself as the next big consultant in the town!

Think about the options I have to market myself as an independent consultant. What would be your suggestions? Create a FaceBook account, Twitter account, Blog, Networking events, Email marketing, creating content on YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn. What else? Wait, if I were to do all that stuff just to market myself when the hell would I master my craft and work with the clients I want to serve?

If you’re thinking, “it looks intimidating at first, Sunil, but gets easier over time…” I’m coming after you! Because it never gets easier over time. Just complicated. That’s the harsh reality none of us is willing to accept.

Instead of doing all that, why can’t I simply reach out to the clients I want to serve? What’s the worse that would happen? They’ll reject my offer. What else? Nothing. Right? And if I had 10 hours in a day, would I choose between the “online marketing” I have to do or speak to 10 potential clients I want to work with, what do you think I would choose? And what would you do if you had the opportunity to contact 10 potential leads vs the online marketing parade?

What’s the minimum viable activity I should be investing my time in? It’s a powerful question that leads me to conclusions like:

  1. Focus on the top 7 things from the master list (basically a brain dump of all tasks within the 5 most important aspects of my life) every day. Nothing more. Nothing less.
  2. Connect with the potential leads I want to have a conversation with. No online parade.
  3. Write a post every day. FB and LinkedIn posts are curated once a week (every Sunday) and queued on Buffer for publication.
  4. 7 foundation barbell movements (Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Military Press, Front Squat, Zercher Squat and Good Mornings)

I think that’s enough to make a point.

I think “less is more” effective, efficient and most importantly sustainable.

Food for thought, perhaps?

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