Subtraction can be transformative – it better focuses our attention on what matters in our personal lives and what drives value in our professional lives. But humans are terrible at subtraction. In fact, we add and add and neglect subtraction as an option.
It’s an essential and indelible skill that is rarely practiced.
To turn subtraction from a neglected option to a first consideration, we enable behaviour change through our six chapters. Each chapter makes visible unique, insight discovered, often invisible expectations and obligations that weigh people down and drain energy. There are three chapters in the personal space and three in professional.
The areas were discovered through our deep dives with a diverse collection of over 200 working women and men. The subtraction area corresponding to each chapter are as follows:
Chapter 1: The Supposed To’s, @life
Supposed To’s @life are the demands we put on ourselves that create undue burden, often based on unattainable goals and fantastical standards externally set through social and cultural influences, family, media, etc. Here’s the opportunity to see and subtract those that weigh us down and constrain our ability to focus on what matters.
Chapter 2: The Invisibles, @life
We introduce the “wow inducing” concept of Cognitive Labor to make the volume of invisible and complexity of invisible work in life visible, enabling us to then intentionally subtract it.
Chapter 3: “Me” Time Villains, @life
The emphasis all around us to shove more in by increasing our efficiency. Improved efficiency can be good, but we complement it with an additional, more satisfying solution: embracing Time Well Spent. We focus on subtraction of “time villains” that don’t contribute to Time Well Spent and pause to consider where we want to invest that newfound time. We suggest “me” as an option!
Chapter 4: The Supposed To’s, @work
The Supposed To’s we take on at work drain energy and create development and time traps. These unwritten rules or expectations that we think we’re supposed to follow often distract us from more important things. Here we pause to illuminate these Supposed To’s @work, and make subtraction choices to reduce our load and focus on value-driving efforts.
Chapter 5: The Invisibles, @work
The Invisibles shine a light on our own behaviours, seeing the work that we continue to do, often because “we’ve always done it (and it contributed to our success),” “it’s easier to do it myself,” or we don’t trust others to do it. We examine what is really essential (for us or anyone) to do and what to subtract.
Chapter 6: From Harder to Smarter, @work
Working hard is unassailably important to enabling success in our career. But we challenge some myths that contribute to overwork and introduce ways to focus our energies to get more.
As the culminating exercise @work, we also take the opportunity to gain clarity over our individual Super Powers – our distinctive skills – and how these skills can be aligned with what drives success in our work environment, to maximize personal impact.