Oh the irony. In attempting to put the lessons of Brian Solis to work in the writing of this blog post, I put it off no less than three times (having scheduled time specifically in my diary and arranged a quiet place to work all three times). Life Scale (Wiley, 2019) is your guide to reconnecting with your best self – not in a fluffy intangible way, but in a way that will let you feel even prouder of the work you do and will make the people most important to you notice how much more ‘present’ and invested you are in the relationships.
Brian Solis is someone I have followed for years, having read many of his seven books and reading lots of his articles with interest. He is a prolific writer and speaker and I always learn something from him. He is also one of those people that always made me wonder how on earth he does it all. Life Scale is Brian’s admission that in trying to do it all he was letting himself and others down. In it, he talks not so much about the impact of the never-ending hustle, but of the dangers of distraction, and the habit of multitasking that so many of us have fallen into, seemingly without noticing.
He suggests that if you are feeling unfulfilled in any part of your life, no longer getting the buzz you used to get from the work you are doing, constantly glued to your device, or even just suffering from a general sense of anxiety, you may be experiencing the opportunity cost of your digital distraction. And many of us don’t even realise it.
This book is driven by Brian’s personal story and experience, and he maps out a practical path to both test yourself, and to take additional steps to get you living every part of your life in a less distracted way. These are small steps you can take that won’t be overwhelming and will leave you no excuse to put it off until you have more time. Things like scheduling an uninterrupted 25 minute work slot to do something important – no phone, no emails pinging, no social media, no colleagues. I tried it. And I loved it!! And you know what? The stuff I wrote in those 25 minutes was much more thoughtful and compelling than anything else I’ve written this month. Yes, multi-tasking might let you get more done, but if what you are doing is not of a quality you are capable of, eventually the shine of ‘more’ will rub off.
Life Scale does delve into the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, but not in a preachy way. Solis outlines the practice and the benefits in a way that is so compelling. I had an ‘aha’ moment of my own in the book where he recounts a TED Talk by psychologist Tasha Eurich where she observes that often our efforts to become more self-aware through introspection actually make us more stressed and depressed. This has certainly been my experience. The simple answer to this is that we focus on exploring ‘why?’ questions (why do I feel this way? Why can’t I focus?) rather than on ‘what?’ questions (what is important to me? What situations make me feel terrible and what do they have in common?). She explains that ‘why’ questions tend to get us looking back, while ‘what’ questions focus on the future. I think this could be a game-changer, coupled with the simple exercises Solis includes in his book — my hope is that you can find your own little lightbulb moment in here too.
The only part of the book where I found myself feeling sceptical was when he introduced the concept of the Law of Attraction. I’m far too practical to drink that KoolAid but I do believe that in many ways, we create our own luck.
This is a book I am going to come back to time and again, especially when I feel like I need a boost in any area of my life. I do think this book should come with a warning label: once you become aware of the concept of digital distraction in the depth outlined here, you’ll find it hard not to notice when someone isn’t giving you their full attention!