The Importance of ‘What is Not’

We often make goals or prioritize our actions (for the new year, for the day, for a lifetime). I recently read an interesting article titled, ‘Elegance and the Art of Less’ by Matthew May. In it, he talks about examining the things we do not do, or do not want to do. (The essay has a good story about Jim Collins making a not-to-do list along with a to-do list every year, which struck me as a nifty idea).

May points out how sculptors, scientists, musicians, architects all use blank space or ‘what is not said/present’ as much as they do in what is there. This also leads to looking at the heart of any issue or endeavour and trying to identify the presence of simplicity in a complex situation.

Writing about Aravind is challenging. There are so many wonderful stories, so much data, so much that seems ‘extremely important’. How is one to choose what should go into the book? Reading May, I was struck by how, while we emphasize Aravind’s core values, what is also striking about the organization is what it does not do. In some ways, the ‘blank space’ around Aravind’s actions speaks as loudly (by its very absence), as the practices in themselves.

And, yes, there is a simplicity (and great beauty) in what it does choose to do….

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58 thoughts on “The Importance of ‘What is Not’

  1. Jyoti says:

    More and more one wants to read the book to identify both types of spaces you talk about for ourselves. Hope it is out soon.

  2. S. Chandrasekhar the physicist, to wrap up his nobel lecture said
    “The simple is the seal of the true
    and beauty is the splendour of truth”
    Anyone that knows about Aravind can understand what Chandra conveyed.

    This is such a lovely Blog, and I cant wait to see the Book.

    Good Luck Pavitra Akka and Suchitra 🙂

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