Archive for November, 2015

The subtractive approach

November.16. 2015

According to Lao Tzu, the virtuoso accomplishes his objectives through daily subtraction rather than through daily addition.

I find the strategy works in many areas of life.

Subtraction is of course getting rid of the fluff, the unnecessary. It’s only by getting rid of the unnecessary that we can focus our attention on the necessary.

And that’s where the strategy works best, in focusing.

The method is surprisingly simple.

If you want to focus on something, just remove everything else.

When you have removed all the unnecessary peripheral stuff that surrounds a thing, you’re left with only that thing, which means that you’ll be able to focus all your attention on it.

The problem is in determining what is necessary and what’s not.

Here, the dispensability test that I wrote about earlier comes in useful again.

When you remove something, does it have an appreciable impact on the end result?

If it does, it’s necessary, if it doesn’t, it’s unnecessary.

Try it.

If you want to get better at guitar playing, get rid of all the toys and paraphernalia of modern life, delete your Facebook account, empty your fridge, change your cell number, whatever else you need to do to regain control of your life.

When you strip your life down to the bare essentials, if you have nothing to distract you, I guarantee that you’ll be playing that guitar all day long.

If you want to focus on your schoolwork, get rid of everything that gets in the way, minimize your commitments and I assure you that you will graduate in no time.

The subtractive approach is really the virtuoso approach to life.

Because it provides you with an effortless way to attain all your goals.