Wabi Sabi and Essentialism – Two Approaches to Quality

Everything and everybody is calling out for our attention. Respond to this email, take this job offering, apply to this college, read this book instead of that one, start a blog; no, don’t start a blog, don’t make another podcast, don’t get a regular job because freelancing is in vogue.

We no longer listen with our ears. We listen with our attention. And our attention is tone-deaf because of the incessant noise of everything and everybody demanding it. What and who should we listen to?

Ourselves. Our voice. The voice that we know best. The voice that’s drowned out by all the other voices.

Okay –  but how? How can we tell which demands for our attention – inner and outer – are worth ignoring? And when doing our work, how can we know what to keep and what to discard? How can we know what we’re trying to say? How can we know what our message really is?

Authors Beth Kempton and Greg McKeown know how.

In Wabi-Sabi, Beth Kempton approaches these questions from a more spiritual and poetic perspective, tying in stories from her life in Japan with rich observations on what it means to live a life of ‘imperfect imperfection.’ Her book reminds me how important it is to be okay with imperfections, especially when it comes to personal branding. (Emphasis should always be placed on the word ‘personal’) Though, the personal brings the imperfections – but that’s exactly what makes your work standout.

In Essentialism, Greg McKeown approaches these questions from the world of business and productivity. Essentialism is a framework that challenges us to be okay with cutting out the fluff from our work, to say no to many of the demands for our atrention.

Essentialism is a timeless book. No matter what project I start, I face the same problems as the last project: what should I keep, what should I discard? Should I make this? Who should I connect with? What if I’m not good enough? Why am I hindering my progress by ruminating on these questions?

These two books taught me that ‘enough’ is something I get to decide.

Have you read these books? Drop a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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