Less is more is a phrase we’ve often heard in many contexts. Here it is in its fuller expression:
Less is more. Less is more. It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, architect
Stand the test of time is the key nugget in this quote for me. As leaders we want to cut through the noise and urgency of our age and know that what we say, what we impart to our teammates will land and have impact. Improve performance. Bear fruit. Resolve conflict. Build another. Not be wasted. And the same is true for us in our personal relationships, especially as parents.
I had lunch with a former client the other day. It was great to catch up and be With. Unprompted she shared several of her key learnings from our years of building. I was amazed at how clear her memory was of her ‘aha moments’. Verbatim, actually (yes, she is really smart!). What I heard played back to me was the fruit of less is more. Her key learnings during our time together were focused on a single issue at a time, not ten.
I loved building her. She did the work 100%. She showed up fully prepared for every practice. Guard down, transparent, authentic and teachable. Committed to pursuing excellence in everything. She’s one of the few. And she is becoming a Master at her craft.
My PA is fairly simple. I ask lots of curious questions. I listen. I listen for what is said. I listen for what is not said. I ask more questions that peel the layers away. Then I hold up the mirror so they can see what I am seeing…reality. I share the one key issue or truth I see and ask if they see it, too. I ask them to tell me more. I ask them to choose a few PA’s to incorporate their discovery, their learning. Simple, not easy. What’s easier is to prescribe the quick fix. Be the Shell Answer Man. Tell them what to do. But that doesn’t work and it doesn’t last. Because it is not theirs.
I want my work as a Builder to stand the test of time. In fact, I want it to have generational impact. So I seek to send less so more will be received. I seek to build foundations. Solid ones. One stone at a time.