- Reduce your digital waste
- Ask yourself “Am I adding value?”
The Whole Picture
I’ve written quite a bit in the past year. But for every email I sent, or post I hit publish on, it’s likely there was one that got trashed. In fact, before writing this, I started writing two other posts, only to discard the draft. I used to write because I wanted people to be impressed by me. I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to come up with a smart solution to someone’s problem or talk about something I did hoping people would think better of me. Ironically, my desire to talk got in the way of my ability to listen – the only real key to finding the best solution.
My new years resolution was to say less – but with higher quality. Not everything we create is wonderful, and sometimes the only lessons to be learned from a piece of writing are for you alone, and it’s better left unpublished.
It’s also hard to put your foot in your mouth if you don’t open your mouth. Not every problem needs a solution, and nearly all people would rather keep talking to full explain what’s on their mind than have you interrupt them with a solution. Additionally, just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean it is informed or that it will further a discussion – it is completely okay to be an active listener while others discuss a topic.
At first it was hard. I would spend 10 minutes writing an e-mail and I felt like I had wasted my time if I hit “discard.” I would question “What if some value would be added by what I said?” Then I realized this – how many people’s time will be wasted by stating something that doesn’t truly add value. If I were a baker, would I ever want to sell a cookie that was a little burnt? Even if the last 10 batches were perfect, would I rather sell a burnt cookie, or simply not sell a cookie. Sometimes you have to toss the cookies.
Every interaction we have is like a cookie. They come in different varieties, and different people have different preferences. Also, if all you did was give away your cookies, you’d go hungry, and if you just ate, you’d be overweight. The right amount of sweet, sour, and savory leaves people wanting more. Too much bitter, or even sweet leaves a bad taste in people’s mouth. There is no shame in tossing a batch of cookies. No one is perfect, but what separates the true professionals from the amateurs is that the professionals know when to press delete.