If you own a business or you ever felt like there’s more to life than just obtaining stuff, you should read STRETCH by Scott Sonenshein.*
The premise of this book is by unlocking the power of less, you’ll achieve more than you ever imagine—lifelong satisfaction can be gained from stretching resources instead of chasing more. He gives many examples of businesses who chased more resources ended up bankrupt, versus others that triumphed from stretching their existing resources.
A book summary (as my friends sometimes ask me for):
1) Make real friends with your so-called competition. Productive, meaningful relationships provide an economic boost to your business through collaboration, knowledge sharing, and stopping cutthroat competition—kind of like these guys did. (I loved that FINCON sent me a placard with the word “competition” crossed out and collaboration written over it.)
2) Don’t pick experts for your think tank: Pick a diverse group! They usually outperform dream teams because a random group is more likely to have experts and outsiders. Outsiders not only have different skill sets, but they also look at things differently.
3) Intersperse mindless work with more grueling to recharge mental batteries: Usually, I clear my notification screen at work first by processing the lengthy—but mindless—notifications, so they stop cluttering up my screen. However, since reading this book, I changed the way I handle notifications by doing the more demanding ones first in a block, then swapping to less demanding ones for a while.
Unfortunately, this means my notification screen will look longer throughout the day— which I dislike—but it gives my brain a break.
I also used to save email until last, but now I open it and process some, then close it again to stop the dings from distracting me. (I think I learned that trick Stop Physician Burnout —which all physicians, pre-meds, med students, and residents should read ASAP)
Maybe I’ll even start going for a 15-minute walk at lunch to give my brain a break (we’ll see—the noon sunshine down here is brutal).
4) Social comparison mixed with mindless accumulation: This is part of the “American Dream” that convinces people to chase after things they might not need/want and ignoring the costs of said pursuit: anxiety, unhappiness, not enough time with family and friends, or the ability to pursue hobbies that provide a balanced mental well-being.
Sonenshein talks about wasteful spending being erroneously thought of as a marker of wealth (if you still believe that you need to read The Millionaire Next Door ).
(and I know you won’t be surprised that I first heard about Stretch from reading The Frugalwoods )
5) Being frugal ain’t so bad:
Fortunes are generated by frugality. Frugal people emphasize the long-term game plan over the short-term pleasures; thus they are patient (or else have to learn to be patient—like me). Frugal people reuse what they have instead of buying more—but they also take pleasure in spending wisely. The frugal also worry less about what they don’t have and instead carve a path with what they do have. Lastly, the frugal use wealth for a higher purpose, rather than just amassing wealth (as the cheap do).
Frugal people also feel freer from conventions: they can buck societal expectations. I am hoping our children can learn this from watching us—that they’ll feel less pressure from social comparisons that can lead to chasing.
6) Chasers have less career satisfaction: The Grass is Always Greener section of the book drove home to me that doctors (or high achievers in general) should read this book. I think this explains a small part of why Physicians are burning out at astronomical rates: we’re chasers by the very nature of what we have to do to become doctors in the first place. Chasing sets us up for high aspirations that leave us perpetually disappointed.
(*I admit I skimmed a few parts because this is a long book and I only gave myself two days to read it. Otherwise, this book was an easy read, written in a Malcolm Gladwellesque style.)