I recently completed the book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. It was a very refreshing read, and far off the typical tone and agenda of a business book. 

I came across Rework at a time in my life when many of the essays within the book have especially strong impact. Over the prior year, I’ve relearned the lesson to keep life as simple as possible. I used to feel just the opposite – that the greater the relative complexity and diversification, and the greater the number of “pots” my hands “were in,” the more interesting life becomes. I believe now, such a principal was true before my strong, time-tested interests and passions became galvanized.  Furthermore, I noticed the greater the complexity of my life, the harder it is to adapt, or change directions, or embrace an opportunity. So in fact, life is prospectively less interesting in that way.

The authors have a chapter entitled “Less Mass,” which centers exactly on this point. “Embrace the idea of having less mass.” Just as in the physical world, “the more massive an object, the more energy required to change its direction.” Mass is increased by contracts, meetings, organizations, long-term obligations, political tie-ups, hefty expenditures, and the like. By reducing mass, you can focus more energy on what drives and inspires you, and what is truly important in your life. In many ways, this is how I ended up choosing my surgical specialty. My brain more easily attaches to the notion of focusing on a relative few things “full-time.” In so doing, you can develop the expertise of a specialist. I’m a big believer in core competency and depth of specialty.

With “less mass,” the decisions made today don’t need to endure forever. As circumstances evolve or change, so can your perspective and associated decision-making. This is the advantage of being exactly the right size for yourself – not too big, and not too small. As the winds change, so easily can the course of the small sea vessel.

This directly ties in with the authors’ final chapter in Rework. They focus on the idea that “inspiration is perishable.” While ideas can last forever, inspiration quickly expires, “like fresh fruit or milk.” “Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you. Inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.”

In sum, much can be said for keeping things simple, adapting and changing with ease, and capitalizing off inspiration with now-ness.

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