As part of getting to grips with an ever changing work environment, duties,line management, and other work-related ‘difficulties’ AND the very volatile political and cultural changes the world is being dragged through I have started reading some books that might help me to both understand myself and how I deal with, well, life.
To this end I’ve been reading some books that have either been recommended to me by someone I know and trust, or the Amazon algorithm showed me “you read this so we think you’d like this”, or I just like the cover. This book, by Mark Manson, is a bit of both … ‘The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F**k‘.
This book says it like it is. It’s a “dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today”, the book is an “antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.”
You quickly become accustomed and desensitised to the strong language in the book. Yes, there’s f**k and s**t everywhere, often used to strengthen the feeling of insecurity or lack of control, but it’s also used quite unnecessarily in many instances just for the shock factor. After the first chapter you’re at ease and almost ignore the language, but the language is part of what the book is about. Shock. Shock you into reflection and action.
“Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek. There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience.”
This is a book for the reader to engage in a meaningful and reflective way. By observing ourselves and how we act and react to the world around us we can begin to understand how we take on too much responsibility.
I ought to say this book isn’t about how to avoid responsibility. It isn’t. It’s about how to identify things that are important in your life, and those that are not. It’s about choosing what you can do something about and the things you can’t, and how you handle the work, emotions, individuals, etc. that you feel you constantly battle against. How do the actions and motives of others affect you, how are they able dump their own inadequacies or responsibility on you and how you choose which to accept?
The biggest take away I’ve had from this book is an clearer understanding of why I get stressed, or rather what influences I choose to accept that make me stressed. The latter half of the book is building you back up once the first half has taken you apart.
“At its core, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a book about finding what’s truly important to you and letting go of everything else. In the same way that [Mark] encourages limiting exposure to mindless distractions such as social media, television and technology, he encourages limiting concern over things that have little to no meaning or value in your life.” Huffington Post
As a Teaching and Learning Consultant / Senior Learning Technologist I find distraction as part of my work – unanswered emails, line management responsibilities, delayed or late learning resources, cancelled meetings or no-shows, etc. As work piles up or deadlines loom I feel it is my responsibility to manage these tasks, even if there are others who are or should be doing it too. I know I care too much about my work and I focus on the things I should perhaps trust to others, but I also know the results we should be aiming for and, should we miss them, I take it personally and get stuck in myself. This, as Manson says, may solve one problem but it is more likely to cause more further down the line.
This is why this has been a good book to read, and eye-opener into me and my priorities, and one I’ll no doubt return to in time. When read alongside or after Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull there are some powerful lessons we could each learn about ourselves, the place we work, and how we work with both.
The other book shown in the header image, ‘Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World‘ by Cal Newport, is next on my list. More soon, when I can concentrate long enough to not be distracted by all the… squirrel! Oh, the irony!