When going back to re-read some of my favorite books there are always ideas that impact me a little differently based on what is going on in my life at the time of the reading. Sometimes a point might be totally lost on me in one read but then hits me right between the eyes the next. I am truly seeing why some people swear by the “Five Foot Shelf” theory that all the books one truly needs for a true education can fit on a five foot long shelf. Instead of reading new, focus on reading those five feet of paper voraciously and in great depth. Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown has continued to solidify its argument for its 3/4″ on the shelf during each reading.
What I am thankful for today is a lesson from the book that I’ve kind of cruised by quickly in the past. The ideas is one that I have read but have glossed over, falsely thinking I’d already had it figured out. This time around I’ve realized that I need to focus on it even more if I want to continue to improve not only my writing, but my gratitude practice and joy.
The concept? Looking for the lead. Yes, very simple. He describes it as the skill that the best journalists poses, the ability to look past and through all the details to truly distill all the information into the one unifying theme that really matters to anyone. What is the lead of the story? What is the concept that the entire rest of the information pivots on?
In life there is so much noise and extraneous detail. I find that I can easily be pulled in one direction or another via logic or emotion. Sometimes there’s so much to process that all of my energy goes there instead of digging to find the deeper meaning. As I reflect and think back I see that those are often the moments when my blogging – and my thought process – is focused on relaying the details and information. The true why, the true meaning, the real lesson are all left for someone else to find on their own. Sadly, when I write that way I often lose sight of that and end up just reporting versus processing and thinking. When my blog really “feels right” it’s usually when I’ve stumbled upon the lead. Everything makes sense because I can pause and say “that’s what it’s really all about!” In an instant I can see the essence of what I am thankful for and it is so much greater than each individual part.
Sitting here initially pondering what I am thankful for today my brain was swirling in several different directions. I almost felt creatively choked by the options and my thought processes. In an instant my brain tripped back to what I’d read yesterday… to find the lead. My mind wasn’t cleared, but I was able to set everything on the periphery. I mentally examined each piece individually. I let my brain put different components together to see how they all fit. After a little while I could see the core concept very clearly in front of me.
The funny thing is that what I found wasn’t what I wanted to blog about today! The process I’d just gone through to mentally unpack my brain and find the lead was priceless! In a short period of time I was able to help my brain put everything together into one common theme and that brought about a sublime state of serenity.
If you haven’t picked up Essentialism yet, please feel free to check it out if you’re ever feeling pulled in too many directions. Just be a little warned, it will make you feel a little uncomfortable at times as it pushes you out of your comfort zone. After reading it I’d be sure to strike up a conversation with you about it if you’d like.