Things that don’t matter

I look back at my life sometimes and can’t help thinking: there’s so much energy we spend on things that ultimately don’t really matter. The small talk, the fluff, the event you ‘have to’ go to and pretend you are interested. The long meetings and dragging relationships with people you know will end. Yet we put up with it every day.

I wonder sometimes if I could go back in time and erase all of that and refocus my energy on the things that really mattered how things would have been different today. Or maybe in some paradoxical way those things do play a part by preparing you for the things that do matter, loss leaders in a way.

This thought in itself may arguably not matter either. After all we can’t go back in time to change it. So does it really matter?

I found over time I’ve become a lot better at erasing things that don’t matter from my agenda, thoughts, plans you name it. I’ve created my own ‘virtual delete’ button that lingers on my top right hand corner just above my right eyebrow. Its reliably there every time I look for it, it never lets me down.

As I often tell my team I walk into the office every day with total amnesia. I forget yesterday, I erase it from my memory and focus on what matters going forward. Sounds obvious yet it isn’t. So many people I know are – at work and life- simply grooming their backlog of to-do’s, reprioritizing as they go along. How sad is that- you essentially are playing catch up with yourself every day.

I’ve learnt that figuring out what matters is as much a science as it is an Art. Sometimes its through rigorous analysis, thoughtfulness and digging. I tell my team every day ‘if you keep digging at some point you will find gold’ (with a few bones and skeletons in-between). But other times it’s just a hunch, A feeling compels me to do something that often makes no sense at all. Those decisions tend to be the risker ones, the ones that can (and do) go horribly wrong. But they are also the ones that change your life when you get them right. They change things in big and bold ways. They are your landmarks; your defining points.

I remember the first such decision I took. I was 23 inexperienced and hanging on to a hard-to-get job in times of recession. And I quit to start my own business. I had no idea how, but I somehow took faith that I would find a way. It was insane. And it changed my life.

Right now as I’m writing this post I am sat in an airport lounge on my way to America. I have that feeling again but I don’t know why. I just have as distinct gut feel that something is about to change for me in a big and bold way. Its thrilling, its illogical and borderline insane. I love it.

And alas I find myself reaching out to my virtual delete button. I erase everything else and focus on what lies ahead. Because when you get that feeling, in the words of Metallica: Nothing else matters. In fact I’m listening to this song on my iPhone as I write this. It never made more sense.

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