By Shane Borza, MCC
You know the expression, "less is more?" I’m here to tell you not only is it true - but it’s TRUE! Not just in work and sport, but in all things. My wife and I took this to the extreme when we lived in a tiny house - 240sq ft - for three years. Our biggest take away was, even after you sell or give away all the ‘stupid stuff’, you still have more than you want--in fact, you have more than you need.
I've always been very minimalist and, especially as a mountain athlete, looked at most things with a practical eye. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, I’m not going to carry it, and if it doesn’t help me get into--or back out of--the mountains, I’m probably not going to buy it (except for gear, of course).
Then again, I've found that all this philosophy and masculine bullshit goes whenever I wind up in an outdoor shop or fitness store. Watch out, I’m coming home with a car load of "stuff I need!"
Luckily, through my bodyweight and kettlebell training the past 7+ years, I've relearned the value of "less is more" by increasing my skill set rather than my footprint; I've mastered what I have, rather than getting distracted by the new and shiny; and I've gone an inch wide and a mile deep, rather than the other way around.
When I first began training with kettlebells, I excitedly signed up for a three-day instructor course and was agog at the new things I would learn - and the new gear I would buy. At the event, I trained with a Master Level Instructor and told him my limitation of ‘only’ having five kettlebells and how I needed to buy X, Y, and Z in order to make gains. Shaking his head, he told me how he had successfully trained for his Instructor Certification using a mere three kettlebells and that what I really needed to improve upon wasn't my gear--it was my skill set.
Disbelief quickly gave way to acceptance as he showed me how to use what I had in new ways to improve, and to do more with less. His exact words were: “Don’t buy anything. You don’t need it... Except a pull-up bar. You need a pull-up bar.” After wrestling with that for a few years, I've found the more research I do, the more I'm reminded of how mastery of what you have is more important than amassing new distractions.
While this is important in sports, training, and recreation, the same goes for your life. When you’re working full time, especially with a spouse and/or kids, there is a lot of pull on your time. Minimizing distractions and time sucks will enable you to focus on fewer things and, perhaps, enable you to have both a higher output in your sport/hobby, and also in the things you mindfully choose to do.
How often have you seen someone playing guitar only to wonder where your guitar went off to? Maybe you watched a scene on television, or in a movie, of a family sharing a meal around the table - no screens in sight - or playing a game and wondered, "Why don’t we do that?"
You can. But without choosing to focus on the things that fuel you, your life, your spirit, and your day, you may find the more you amass, the less time, energy, and focus you have.
My Lesson Learned
Regardless of whether you’re a hiker on the Appalachian Trail for 3-6 months and only have your pack, a climber traveling the country in your station wagon (or van) for the summer, or a skier renting a room (or garage) for the season - you don’t have room for a lot; your sport, and its gear, take priority. As such, you think long and hard about every single thing you take with you.
But where’s this attention to detail, where’s this awareness, where’s this thoughtful minimalism when you’re not adventuring?
Perhaps you're not a mountain athlete, but you travel often, live out of a suitcase, or are on the road. A minimalist mindset may work for you, too! I've learned, both in training and in life, that with little to no equipment, and mindful decisions, I can reap the benefits of maximum output. And, while this may mean improvements in mobility, strength, conditioning, and flexibility, it can just as easily mean improved energy, focus, relaxation, and output.
So think about it: Are you accumulating stuff just to have stuff? Or are you instead mindfully decluttering and choosing what you need--what you really need?