Of investments made by a successful venture capitalist, 5 percent of them provide 55 percent of cash, 10 percent produce 73 percent, and 15 percent yield a total of 82 percent. Fewer than 20 percent of inventions have more than 80 percent of impact on our lives. In the twentieth century, nuclear power and the computer probably had greater influence than the hundreds of thousands of other inventions and new technologies. More than 80 percent of food comes from far less than 20 percent of land.
Also, fruit typically accounts for much less than 20 percent of the mass or weight of a tree or vine. And meat is a reduction of vast amounts of digested grain or grass. What makes Coca-Cola so much more valuable than any other soft drink on the planet?
Minute proportions of hops and other flavorings. Diminutive causes, massive results. Finally, evolution presents a stunning example of selectivity. One percent of species that have ever lived on earth, biologist Richard Dawkins estimates, constitute percent of the species now living. There is a big imbalance between causes and results.
Most causes have little result, a few transform life. But this is wrong. It is not true that because I benefit from the principle, somebody else must lose. To object to improvement on the grounds that it is elitist is wrong-headed: progress is desirable and helps everyone. Perfection and equality are equally impossible, and in my opinion equally undesirable.
They are all tools that improve life for everybody. When we do, other people benefit as well. Everybody would be better off. Would there still be a top 20 percent and a bottom 80 percent of everything? Unless there was, no further improvement would be possible. Fortunately, that is not going to happen: we will always have something to improve.
It can make us happy, fulfilled, and relaxed. We start by creating more with less… Chapter 2: Create More with Less Many might go to heaven with half the labor they go to hell. Ben Jonson All human history, all progress in civilization, involves getting more with less. Nearly 8, years ago, humans moved from hunting savage animals and gathering wild fruits to a system of agriculture, cultivating land, and domesticating animals.
Our ancestors got much more and better food with much less struggle and danger. Until years ago, 98 percent of the working population labored on the land. Then a new agricultural revolution used machinery to transform productivity. Today in developed countries, agriculture employs only 2—3 percent of the workforce, yet produces vastly more food, which is also more varied and nutritious. The highway of economic progress in the past years has also been more with less: identifying the few very productive forces and methods the 20 percent and multiplying them, so that more results can be obtained from fewer resources.
Smaller and smaller amounts of land, capital, labor, management, materials, and time have been used to generate larger and better outputs: more steel for less iron ore, capital, and labor; more and better cars for less energy and cost; more consumer goods of every type, with more features and higher quality, at ever lower prices. Just 40 years ago, a few massive, clunky computers were made with enormous effort and cost. Computers keep getting cheaper, smaller, easier to use, and more powerful.
They exemplify more with less. Every material advance of humanity - in science, in technology, in living standards, in housing, in food, in health and long life, in leisure, in transport, in everything that makes modern life so much richer and more fun than before - gives more with less. We can often get more with less simply by leaving something out.
Algebra does this: it lets us compute more easily by leaving out the numbers, the basis for all computer programming breakthroughs. The Sony Walkman, a brilliant innovation, is really a cassette player minus the amplifier and speakers, yet it creates a fantastically versatile way of listening to music anywhere. A dry martini makes a great drink by cutting out the Martini. It is scant exaggeration to say that more with less is the basic principle by which modern science, technology, and business advance living standards everywhere.
If we know what results we want, therefore, we can look for a super-productive way to get those results. Every time, more with less is possible, provided that we identify the golden 20 percent: the people, methods, and resources that are extremely creative and productive. Companies and countries that devise ways to deliver more value for less effort, peoplepower, and money flourish; but they can never rest on their laurels, because there is always a way to deliver even more for even less and somebody will soon find it.
The modern principle for individuals is more with more. Life in the fast lane turns into work in the fast lane. There is certainly more challenge, more stimulation, and more money, but there is also total submission to work demands, more burnout, and pervasive anxiety. How come we successfully use more with less for science, technology, and business, and yet insist on more with more when it comes to our working lives?
If more with less works for companies and economies, it should work for individuals as well. In fact I know it does, from personal experience and from seeing many friends and acquaintances getting more with less: more satisfaction, more achievement, more money, more happiness, better relationships, and a more balanced and relaxed life, from less blood, toil, tears, and sweat.
Many of the things we do absorb energy but are worse than useless. Worry is a prime example. Worry is never useful. When we find ourselves worrying, we should either act and not worry, or decide not to act and not worry. If we can act to avoid a bad fate or reduce its chance of happening - and the action is worthwhile - then we should act and not worry. Worries will always arise but we can do without them, instantly deciding to act or not act, but in either case not to worry.
It will take time. The Calvinist notion that toil and trouble are essential for personal advancement is so deeply rooted in the culture and working assumptions of modern life that it will take a generation to uproot it. We can start using it and benefiting right away. How to get more happiness with less effort More with less is a practical tool that delivers on two promises: It is always possible to improve anything in our lives, not by a small amount, but by a large amount. A much better outcome must be sought alongside lower effort.
To expect more with less may seem unreasonable, but this is precisely the reason that amazing improvement is possible. The trap in making more effort to improve things is that we continue making the same kind of effort. Instead, it should be plain that in making the startling demand for more with less, we are going to have to dream up a great breakthrough. By deliberately cutting back on what we put into the task and yet asking for much more, we force ourselves to think hard and do something different.
This is the root of all progress. You need to get to the other side of town in a hurry. Your alternatives are to walk or run. Walking will take forever. Running is quicker, but more effort. To run would be to make the very modern blunder of seeking more with more. We demand, quite unreasonably, a much better result with much less effort. But since we know that more with less is possible, we continue thinking until we have a more with less solution.
How can we get across Bedrock much faster but without the slog of running? Like the waitress at the prehistoric diner, we could rollerskate with less energy than it would take to run, yet arrive quicker. Or we could go one step further and jump on the back of a friendly brontosaurus. The more with less chart might look like Figure 4. Easy but useless. You could draw attention to yourself, maybe becoming president of the debating society or winning an athletics event.
But the boy or girl you are after may not notice or care - a high- effort, low-reward approach. This may work, but only with extraordinary effort. Or you could simply go up the object of your desire, put on your best genuine smile, and ask for a date - easy and just as likely to work.
This example is obvious, but you can draw a more with less chart for anything in your life. I am not saying that we should take the path of least resistance or never dedicate ourselves percent to an activity or cause that is dear to us. The choice is ours. If we go for the right activities, we can work effortlessly and achieve a great deal, or we can put everything into what we do and achieve even more.
Think of any great scientist, musician, artist, thinker, philanthropist, or business leader. Do they achieve by trying to do something they find easy and natural, or by trying to do something that is hard and unnatural? Do they achieve because they work hard, or because they find it easier than other people to excel in their chosen arena? Do they work hard because they feel guilty, or because they identify with their work, believe in it, and love it?
Even when they work hard, their work is always economical - they get a huge return on their effort. Saying thanks, showing appreciation, displaying affection, watching a sunrise or sunset, caring for a pet or a plant, smiling at a casual acquaintance or stranger, committing a random act of kindness, enjoying a walk in a beautiful place - these are all ways of getting more with less. The reward is out of proportion to the effort. If you think about it, the only way to take leaps forward in our lives is to demand more with less.
The beauty of more with less is that it can be applied to anything, it always works, and it always gives an answer you can keep up throughout your life. More with less is easy to maintain and extend.
A bit of upfront thinking is a small price for a huge lifetime reward. Anything we do is much more difficult the first time, and gets progressively easier the more we do it, to the point where it becomes easier to do it than not to do it.
A terrific example is exercise. Walking five miles is extremely tough the first time you do it, but if you do it every day, nothing could be easier. In fact, both body and mind get used to anything we do after about two weeks: it becomes second nature. Why work hard for nothing, when a few habits that become second nature can give you a healthy rhythm every day? We get more reward with less energy if we adopt rewarding habits earlier rather than later.
Yet a few habits can have a phenomenal effect on our happiness throughout life - we get a massive bonanza from a little upfront effort.
Just choose seven super-rewarding habits that will be your friends for life. Choose your seven high-payoff habits carefully! Get more happiness for less effort! Pick the few high-payoff habits that will make you happiest. The list is far from exhaustive, so add any habits that have the potential to make you very happy, then master your seven. What will we be most upset to see run out? The answer is probably time. Sophocles At the age of 30, an extremely successful Wall Street trader decided to go to Tibet, enter a monastery, and undertake rigorous spiritual studies.
How long will it take me if I study intensively and try extremely hard to cut the time? It took just a moment of inspiration, while he was relaxing, thinking about nothing much. Time is like that: cussed when we try to speed up, a dear friend when we slow down. Time is perhaps the best example of the principle, and the one of most value to our lives. Once we realize this, our lives are transformed. Suddenly, there is no shortage of time. There is no rush. If we think intelligently about what we can achieve with our time, we can be relaxed, even lazy.
In fact, being lazy - having plenty of time to think - may actually be a precondition for achieving a great deal. This was true for the ancient Greeks. With slaves to do all the work, they spent their time thinking, debating, and in leisure pursuits. Result: the greatest civilization, science, and literature that had ever existed.
It is also true of developed modern society. We have never been so free, yet failed to realize the extent of our freedom. We have never had so much time, yet felt we had so little. Modern life bullies us to speed up our lives. We use technology to do everything faster. But in racing against the clock, all we do is stress ourselves out. We battle against time, our imagined enemy. We perceive time as accelerating, draining out from our lives at an alarming rate.
Ah no! Alas, Time stays, we go. We can have more with less: more happiness with less time, more results with less time. Time is not in short supply, we are awash with it. Time need not rush, nor need we. Time can stand still, bringing us happiness, achievement, and a taste of eternity. Time is a boundless sea. We can swim happily in time, confidently, calmly, with no sense of impending doom.
Dear old Sophocles was right after all: Time is a gentle god. There are two ways in which we experience time. There is the small quantity of time - the 20 percent or less - that delivers 80 percent of what we want. And there is the much larger quantity of time - the 80 percent or more - that delivers a miserable 20 percent. Time flows in fits and starts, in gurgles and splurges, in trickles and floods.
There are long periods when nothing happens, and short bursts when a tidal wave transforms our world. The art of time surfing is to track down the waves and ride them to happiness and success. Time is not absolute - time is relative to our emotions, our attention, and our timing. There are times when we are totally absorbed, absolutely happy, in tune with the universe - when time stands still. We are scarcely conscious of time or ourselves. We are in the zone, in the moment, experiencing a sense of inner calm or bliss.
A little like Archimedes, we may have a breakthrough insight or idea. We may make a decision that changes lives. At other times, little worthwhile happens. We are bored, miserable, or unexcited. A day of time in the zone may be worth a lifetime of dog days. Less is more. The value of time, and how we experience it, depends on on how we use it: how we feel about our lives - at the time.
We are likely to experience 80 percent of our happiness in 20 percent of our time. Probably 80 percent of what we achieve comes from 20 percent of our time… …and the other 80 percent of our time only leads to 20 percent of our achievement. It follows that: Most of what we do is of limited value, for us and everyone else.
We get a fantastic return on our time when 20 percent of time leads to 80 percent of happiness or achievement - we get a fourfold or percent return on this time. If 80 percent of our time leads to 20 percent of value to us, then the return on this time is only 20 divided by 80, or 25 percent.
The issue is not time, but what we do with it. We can get a paltry 25 percent return on our time, or percent. If we are self-employed and spend two days a week on our most valuable type of activity, we should be able to get percent of the value that used to take five days to generate - and still have three days left over for whatever we want. We can sharply boost the quality of our lives by changing our use of time. What if we switch them? Still, multiplying the value of our time by four - a good rule of thumb - is like living to be instead of 80, without any of the disadvantages of old age!
What are your happiness islands? Think back to the last time you were really happy, then the times before that. What did these times, or some of them, have in common? Were you in a special place, with a particular person, or pursuing a similar sort of activity? Are there some common themes? How can you multiply your time spent on happiness islands? If 80 percent of your time leads to only 20 percent of your happiness, can you cut those activities, freeing up time for things that make you happy?
Luckily, there are always many activities that give us a poor return on happiness for the time spent. Surveys of people watching television, for example, show that very few say they are happy after watching hours of TV.
Typically, they feel mildly depressed. If watching television makes you happy, do more of it; but otherwise, stop! What other things that have a poor happiness return could you quit doing? What do you do out of a sense of duty? If you were happy, your happiness would overflow into the lives of those around you.
Time spent being miserable is antisocial. What are your achievement islands? I can do two lunches and two dinners a week where I make speeches, but any more than that and I get burned out. Have you had any of those times recently? Maybe when you had a brilliant new idea?
There was an afternoon which was so beautiful and I was worn out, so I went home and sat in a deckchair in the garden. I was goofing off, really, but then I had the idea for our new campaign. What are yours?
Do they have things in common? Do they happen at the same time of day? Are the activities similar, such as selling, writing, or making decisions?
Do they happen in a special place, with particular colleagues, or after the same event or stimulation? What mood are you in? In a group or alone? Rushed or relaxed? Talking, listening, or thinking? Richard Adams was a bored, disillusioned, middle-level bureaucrat. When he was 50 he dreamt up a bedtime story for his daughter, Juliet, who loved rabbits. Could you spend more time on the things you enjoy, even without quitting your day job?
Could a hobby, interest, or sideline in your life blossom into a new career? Find out: spend more time on the things you enjoy. Try out your new projects while you are still working at your normal job. Experiment with different ideas until one clicks. The poor daydreaming clerk Once there was a wayward school kid. Expelled for being disruptive, he found a badly paid job as a junior clerical officer.
He was so bored at work that he found plenty of time for daydreaming and reading about science. He fancied himself as a self-taught, amateur scientist. The kid was Albert Einstein. In his mid-twenties he rocked the scientific world with the theory of relativity.
Time that would otherwise be wasted and miserable can become hugely creative and enjoyable. To answer them, try thinking about or writing down everything that really excites you, that you love doing in any part of life - at work, your hobbies and sports, the best minutes of each day.
Then either choose one of these activities and make it central to your life, or work out what the activities have in common and do more of that, and less of everything else.
For example, my life took a turn for the better when I realized that what I loved doing was evoking enthusiasm: getting an individual, or more often a group, all geed up about a topic or cause that I myself felt strongly about.
That is why I now spend most of my time writing books, giving speeches, and talking to friends about ideas that excite us all. Might it lead to a new career?
You try to manage something if you are short of it; money, for example. But we are not short of time. We may be short of ideas, confidence, or common sense, but not time. What we are short of is those marvelous times when time stands still, when we are wonderfully happy and creative. Time management tells us to speed up. The promise is just a carrot to make us move faster.
Like the donkey, we find ourselves moving faster but remain those few elusive inches away from the carrot. Like the donkey, we have been conned. With time management, we work more and relax less. Time revolution says the opposite.
We have too much time, not too little. It is because we have so much time that we squander it. To detonate your time revolution, slow down. Stop worrying. Do fewer things. Chuck your to do list, make a not to do list. Act less, think more. Reflect on what really matters to you. Savor life. The modern world has accelerated out of control. As Theodore Zeldin says: Technology has been a rapid heartbeat, compressing house work, travel, entertainment, squeezing more and more into the allotted span.
Nobody expected that it would create the feeling that life moves too fast. Be unconventional, even eccentric. Purge your diary. Dump your cell phone. Stop going to meetings or events that bore you. Reclaim time for yourself and the people you care about.
But does he rush around? Is he super-busy? Absolutely not. By being relaxed and thoughtful, he usually gets them right. Step forward Bill Bain, the founder and former leader of a very successful management consulting firm. I was a partner there for two years. Everyone worked long and hard - with one exception. He was always dressed immaculately. Always entering or leaving the office, often in spotless tennis gear. Bill made all the key decisions, and made a fortune, with very little time and effort.
Management consulting is hard labor. We first worked together in a tiny, cramped office, full of noise and frenzied activity.
Everyone dashed madly around. Except Jim. There he sat, calmly examining his calendar and languidly writing down his objectives. Our job was to execute them.
Jim was wonderfully effective. He sold multimillion-dollar assignments. The troops loved him. He was always in the office early in the morning and late at night. Yet his reputation for long hours was undeserved. Chris routinely spent afternoons discreetly playing golf or tennis, at the racetrack, or taking long lunches.
Everyone assumed that he was with clients. I had to agree it was true! Live in the present The present moment is vital. Get more with less - confine yourself to the present moment and enjoy concentrating on it. Nor does it run from left to right. As round clocks tell, time keeps coming round. Time enjoyed in the past is still there. Our achievements and good deeds still stand. The present is real and precious, regardless of how long or short our future will be.
We can be proud of our past and we can hope for our future, but we can only live in the present. We are more connected to what is going on now and to other people. We have the precious gift of life today, to be enjoyed and experienced how we choose. Each moment of life has the quality of eternity, the stamp of our own individuality.
When time stands still, we are totally absorbed in the present. We are everything and we are nothing. Time is fleeting and eternal. We are happy, life has meaning. Time revolution brings us more joy in less time. When the present moment has meaning, time is one seamless whole, valuable yet inconspicuous. The rush is over, anxieties recede, bliss increases. We can be intensely happy in no time at all. We reach the highest form of more with less.
In each area we learn to focus, so that less is more. The emphasis throughout is on practical action steps, and in Part III you and I will carry this to its final conclusion, developing a personal action plan enabling us to thrive in the modern world while elegantly side-stepping its wearisome woes. Five years later he visited Universal Studios. He ducked out of the standard tour to find a real movie being made. He became a fixture on the lot, mixing with directors, producers, writers, and editors, sucking in ideas, observing how real directors behaved.
Later, of course, he made a string of hits, including ET, one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. Spielberg was focused. Focus is the secret of all personal power, happiness, and success. Focus means doing less; being less. Focus makes less more.
Few people focus, yet focus is easy. Focus expands individuality, the essence of being human. Who are you? We craft individuality. We share 98 percent of our genes with chimpanzees, yet the 2 percent variation makes all the difference. We each evolve differently and unpredictably. Individuality implies differentiation. Becoming different requires editing, subtraction, focus.
We become dissimilar by focusing on our distinctive and authentic parts. Our genes determine our appearance and have a big say in many other matters. As we grow up, our parents and family influence how we behave, think, and think of ourselves.
Our teachers, friends, priests, bosses, and mentors mold us. However pronounced the pressures on us, we have our own personality.
Nobody else on the planet is the same. In a big or small way, we are bound to influence the world, making it different than it would be without us. We become individuals though subtraction. When we focus our self, we give up doing what many other people do, thinking what others think.
Is this a loss? Of quantity, yes; but not of quality. In quality, less is more. By narrowing our interests, we deepen and intensify them. By focusing on our best, unique attributes, we become more individual, more human. We focus our power, our singularity, and our ability to enjoy life profoundly and uniquely. Developing individuality is a conscious process.
We become more distinctive individuals through deliberate decisions and actions, honing and increasing what is different and best about us. Focus and individuality make life easier Many people meander through life, muddling along without great hope or direction.
They think this is the easiest way. But is it? Are they short-changing themselves? In being true to your self, you give up the parts of you that are not genuine or natural. You stop acting. You stop pretending to be interested or excited in things that bore you. You stop worrying about what other people think of you. What could be easier? More rewarding? What could electrify your life more?
The modern world overloads us. We try to keep up with so many things. We make zillions of little decisions. How much simpler to make a few big decisions! For what? At what? All of these decisions exclude. They simplify life, close off options, eliminate excess choice. They concentrate energy. What are you putting energy into? Is your personal power focused? Use these people as a sounding board - most of us need assistance from others before we discover what is best for us.
Focus decreases doubt and turbo-charges confidence and power. As Shakespeare wrote in Measure for Measure: Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win, By fearing to attempt. We all have a tremendous, underused asset: our sub-conscious mind and emotions. The subconscious is a friendly and truly personal computer. Like the personal computer itself, the subconscious delivers much more with much less energy and cost.
How many times have you been walking the dog, brushing your teeth, meditating, or sitting in a deckchair, when suddenly - Wham! The subconscious was, delivering the answer you needed. The subconscious is selective. When you care deeply about an issue, it takes note. Focus and individuality make us happy Happiness is not outside us. Happiness is inside. Our minds and our emotions, and what we think of ourselves, make us happy or unhappy.
We are happy if we have high self- respect and self-esteem. Self-esteem can be temporarily boosted by drugs or drink, flattery, power, money, or by deceiving ourselves. Yet the reliable, lasting way to high self-esteem is by nurturing the best of our selves. A positive and accurate self-image is based on individuality: an authentic sense of who we are and why we live life our way. Lasting happiness cannot be gained through consumption. Happiness requires active participation in what we value.
To do things well, enjoy them, and take pride in what we have done - these fertilize happiness; they demand development and individuality. Reaching for the best only in the areas that suit you is more fun than bother.
Getting the best becomes relatively easy. Somerset Maugham Creative emotions possess and delight us. They come from caring, attention, focus, consistent dreaming, from passionately wanting to create. To dance well, love well, raise children well, play golf well, cook well, ask questions well, direct a movie well - inspired actions make us happy.
Individuality and focus make us happy. The kind of place you want to be - the people you want to be with, the kind of person you want to become, the experiences you want to have, the quality of your life. Where you most care about arriving - the life that suits and expresses you. Using the law of focus, that less is more, you need to think very carefully about the particular, personal destination that is best for you. What are the few vital characteristics or results that will make us happiest?
What are the very few qualities that we must focus on and multiply, not worrying about all the rest? If you are exceptionally selective and find the few things that matter deeply to you, life acquires a purpose and meaning way beyond what it had previously, when you were somewhat concerned about a large number of issues.
So who and what do you want to become? If you strip away all the acting and all the role- related trappings, who is the authentic you? What is your best 20 percent? A good way to answer this question is to define your 20 percent spikes. Use Figures 7 and 8 pp. Put dots where you think they belong for each attribute and then join the lines up.
I am committed to Tracy for life and to our children. I want them to grow up loved and to lead happy lives. Besides creating and building a new restaurant, I enjoy leading and training people so that they become the best they can be in their jobs. Do you? If so, you can make less more. Is it unique to you? Will you avoid squandering energy on many other things?
Does it exclude lots of objectives that currently soak up a large part of your energy? Is it a dream life for you? But most importantly: Will pursuing it prove that less is more for you? Knowing what you want, how can you make a large improvement in your life while doing less overall? All we have to do is to find it. How did they manage it? Pick one that suits you particularly well. Think hitchhiking- who can give you a lift?
Does it give you not only a better solution, but also an easier one? You live in East London, close to a tube subway stop. Looking at the tube map, you plan to go directly from your local station on the Central Line to Notting Hill Gate, then change to the Circle Line for Paddington. All fine and dandy. Try this. Leave the tube at Lancaster Gate station, two stops before Notting Hill Gate, and take a relaxed walk to Paddington, occupying no more than five minutes.
Altogether you save yourself four stations traveling on the tube, as well as the hassle of changing from one line to another and waiting for a new train. More with less. The road to Seville starts with 30 miles of hairpin bends through a mountain pass to Ronda, then there are many changes of direction and the route is hard to follow. There is no other way to Seville that is anywhere near as short or direct. You grimly set off. Even though it would take a few precious extra minutes, you study the map carefully, and ask the cashier at the service station for help.
She tells you that for the price of a small toll, you can take the freeway to Malaga, then another freeway to Seville. How long will it take? Two hours, she says, if you drive fast. Is it clearly marked? You find she is right: the freeway is clearly marked and almost completely empty; the Spanish hate paying tolls.
Be clear, however, about your objectives before deciding the route. In the Seville example, the best route would be different if you had plenty of time, enjoyed driving on challenging roads, and placed a premium on beautiful scenery.
This is typical of life lived to the full. Of course, my travel examples are rather trivial. This is certainly the case for finding the route to your best 20 percent. How do we do this? Back to Steve. It won the best Cape Town restaurant competition last year and everyone agrees it is a cool place.
But I want to have a chain of these restaurants in South Africa and then overseas. The first step is to open in Johannesburg. There are always many possible routes. The challenge is to craft a route offering more for less. First, how could you get more? What would be a much better way for you? Brainstorm all possible routes. Dream up many ideas. If it fails, move on to your second choice of route - but only if it too offers more with less. The things that you are best at, that come naturally to you, will give clues on how you can best get more with less.
I just about managed to resign before I got fired. Having failed the first time round, with a huge dent to my ego, I determined to correct the things that had sunk me before: my lazy style, independence of spirit, irreverence, and reputation for frivolity. I decided to make a big deal of working unbelievably hard, brownnosing my bosses, and presenting the serious and responsible side of my nature.
I would not fail again and I would prove the folks at BCG wrong in their judgment of me. Was this the right thing to do? Yes and no. Bain was a fine choice. It had a great business formula, exclusively focused on serving the top person in any client organization, and grew even faster than BCG. Talent was so thin on the ground in Bain that I rapidly got promoted to junior partner.
I reined in my rebel instincts, projecting a convincing image of company loyalist and team builder. Clearly not. In donning my Bain mask, I was seeking more with more. More success, more interesting work, more responsibility, more money. For someone who believed in more with less, this was far from ideal. What about my 20 percent spikes?
Was I playing properly to these? Alas, no. Not really. I was not straitlaced or loyal enough. Was I finding it a strain to appear so Bain-like? You bet. My first thought was that I had enough money and should take life easier, get out of management consulting altogether.
That would be less with less: less work, less strain and stress, but also less money and less interesting work. Besides, I professed to believe in more with less. So how was I going to contrive more with less? What did I want? I wanted less angst, less conformity, less suppression of my true nature, less travel, less intense work, fewer administrative duties, and fewer bosses preferably none at all!
To state my desires was to answer them. The only way I could get more with less, the exact way I wanted it, was to start my own firm. I firmly believe that the most ambitious destination and route can also be the easiest - if and only if they precisely match your strengths.
Correcting our weaknesses, the most we become is mediocre. If we hone our few super- strengths, our 20 percent spikes, insist on behavior that is authentic and true to our inner selves, and unreasonably demand more with less, the sky is the limit. There were only two actions necessary: to find the partners, and then start the firm! Once I had made my decision, all the other actions I was taking every day became the trivial many; finding the partners and starting the firm became the vital few.
Then chance intervened. I called Ian Fisher, a colleague and friend, about our current project, and at the end of the call he let something slip. I jumped on my bicycle and rode along the Thames towpath to his home in Kew. I found them holed up together, shell-shocked after a traumatic encounter with Bill Bain. Were they going to start a new firm?
Could I be their partner? Or had it? But the key phrase is when you know your destiny. Desire does have to be preplanned. If you do take them, they can multiply happiness out of all proportion to the effort. Make the most of your difference. Nobody else can. Focus on the best of yourself, so that less is more. Find the route to transform your life, so you get more results with less worry and less effort.
Then act, and be open to the great luck that the universe will try to bestow on you. Mia Farrow is sitting in the audience, watching her favorite film. He snatches Mia Farrow off, unleashing a fabulous love affair. There, I think, lies the secret of success. I mean having an idea, or a fantasy, or a passion - and acting on it. Stepping out of a life of duty, where everything runs on predictable lines dictated by other people, into a life created by your own imagination.
Forgetting about hard work and using the greatest of all human attributes, our ability to move between the world as it is and the world in our minds. Thinking, imagining, creating, enjoying. Other animals can work hard, only humans can think hard. Other animals are programmed by evolution.
People are too, but we can also program ourselves and change the world we find into a world we prefer. The whole edifice of modern civilization rests not on drudgery, muscle power, repetition, or long hours of work, but on insight, inspiration, inventiveness, originality, and enterprise. On moving between where we are now, in the real world, and the world we dream up in our minds and then make real.
What is true for humanity as a whole is also true for individuals. The most successful people change the world not through sweat and tears but through ideas and passion. It is not a matter of hard work or time on the job; it is having a different view, an original idea, something that expresses their individuality and creativity.