Brazilian CEO Ricardo Semler knows how to live life well it seems. He has a great take on life. Every Monday and Thursday he has “terminal days” and does whatever he would have done if he ‘got the news’.
I recently watched his inspiring TED talk and am still reflecting on it. In it, he shares radical ideas for doing things differently: at work, at school and in our day to day lives.
His fresh perspective really shows up how tied up in nonsense we all are. We clock on and off like automatons.We fill in forms. We drive for hours to all sit at desks in the same big expensive building. We type things. We email things. We have certain approaches to working life – from recruitment and selection to appraisal – that may or may not really shift things on positively. Mostly though, we over-rate work. And I would know. I’ve a very strong work ethic. I got lovely Writer’s Toolkit for Christmas that sits barely touched on my desk. Stupid place to put it. The minute I get within a few steps of my desk, I’m magnetically drawn to sit and start emailing and working. Honestly. It’s compulsive. And so, where there might have been a window for creativity, mind expansion, fun, I end up being efficient.
“We’ve learned to clear emails on Sunday evenings,” Ricardo says. “We haven’t learned to go to the movies on Mondays.”
He looks at how we “distribute our lives”: “In the period when we have money, we have little time. When we finally have time, we have neither the money nor the health.”
Here’s how he does this with his employees. If a worker fancies mountain-climbing, he reckons there’s little point holding off to do this when that person has time, aged 82. They should be doing it now. So he sells them back their Wednesdays for 10% of their salary… go climb!
Imagine the healthy, happy, motivated team that would generate… the energy, the vibe would create so much more than the Mon-Fri, 9-5 team.
I’m so guilty of being institutionalised to the working norm. As a freelancer with loads of scope to shape my days and my week, I’m tragically bound to the notion that 9-5 (or 9-7 in reality) is work time. I struggle to make space to go for a swim, struggle to get to my paints and pens, struggle to stop, just sit.
Top tip to live life well: 3 Whys
So Ricardo has a top tip. It’s one I’ve used in coaching. The 3 Whys.
Whenever you catch yourself doing anything or contemplating anything that does not enhance your life in that moment, ask yourself “why”. Not once. Three times. It really matters to do it 3 times (or as many as you need to get to the hub of the matter. We’re tricky. We’re practised. We have stock answers that we can access off pat to justify why we do things.
Let’s try it.
You’re considering working on a Sunday evening…
- Why? “So I can get ahead of the day”
- Why? “So I can get more work done”
- Why? “So I can impress the boss”
- Why? “So I can keep my job”
- Why? “So I can have an income”
- Why? “So I can live the way I choose”
- Why? “So I can be fulfilled and happy”
So maybe don’t bother with the email and go to the movies?
See more in this great talk. If you don’t find at least one tip in here to change your ways, I’ll eat my hat.