What You Need Not Do

I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy of the new book End Malaria, an endeavor created by The Domino Project in conjunction with Box of Crayons designed to, you guessed it, end malaria.

They are doing this by giving $20 from the purchase of each copy of End Malaria to Malaria No More to send a mosquito net to a family in need and to support life-saving work in the fight against malaria.

End Malaria includes essays by 62 of America’s favorite business authors, including Tom Peters, Nicholas Carr, Pam Slim, and Sir Ken Robinson. At its core End Malaria is about doing great work and the messages in this book inspire you to do just that.

I have been picking up this book several times throughout the days while taking a break from my work and have come across a few essays that have struck me very deeply. The one called “What You Don’t Have to Do” by Kevin Kelly hit me in all the right places.

Many of us have heard the saying, “work smarter not harder” and while this is part of Kevin’s message, he expressed the real heart of the matter better than anyone I have heard yet….

“When others are doing something similar to what you are, let that activity go because it means you don’t have to do it. If people are stealing your ideas, ripping off your moves, or knocking off your style, and they are doing it well, thank them. You’ve just learned that this assignment is something you don’t need to do because someone else can do it. This is scary because you are giving up things you do well, and you might think that after you surrender all the good stuff, there won’t be anything left for you. Trust me – there is more to you than that.”

That last sentence made my stomach flip just a little bit. How true it is and yet how infrequently do we act on behalf of that idea on a daily basis?

Perhaps I was struck by it because for the past 18 plus months I have experienced, instigated and created many changes in my business. I have had tremendous ups and downs, dramatic highs and lows and periods where I questioned how the heck I got to where I am now and just about everything I have ever done in my career. It was not fun but there was never a dull moment.

I didn’t stop working so that I could find myself or indulge in self-important introspection. I didn’t spend days reading self-help books to look for the magic bullet or the definitive answer on the meaning of my life. I didn’t quote other seemingly more enlightened beings to claim allegiance to any one thought or idea in the hopes that I could own it too and I didn’t spend any time “following” what other people were doing in an effort to figure out what I should be doing. Rather, I lived my life, kept working and delivering the best I could to my clients knowing that if I just kept doing work that paid the bills AND work that inspired me and motivated me while letting go of all of the external noise, I would figure out all the big questions (and hopefully answers) naturally.

I don’t have them all but my clarity is surprising to even me. It came to me in a form similar to how it has been expressed by Kelly, however reading this “This is scary because you are giving up things you do well, and you might think that after you surrender all the good stuff, there won’t be anything left for you. Trust me – there is more to you than that.” finally gave words to what I have come to know on a visceral level.

This book is filled with insights, ideas and lessons from some people you know and many others you don’t. It’s fun and interesting and the perfect coffee table book.

So, I encourage you to find out more about this project by visiting http://endmalariaday.com and if it speaks to you as it did to me, buy yourself and others who you think might benefit a copy of End Malaria. It’s great work for a great cause.