When I was eight years old, my neighbor’s dad gave me a Swiss Army knife.
He was a metal worker, and he told me it contains all the essential tools a man needs to do his work. I was obsessed with it. All day, I would run around outside, carving sticks, trying to build different shapes and make something useful.
If you don’t know, this is what a Swiss Army Knife looks like:
It contains everything a soldier might need for the non-fighting parts of a mission: several knives, a saw, a can opener, corkscrew, a nail pick, and a pair of scissors.
The Swiss Army knife was first made in 1891, and, for almost 100 years, two companies split the contract to equip every Swiss soldier with such a knife. It has become a cultural icon of Switzerland and is world-famous for its versatility and simplicity. It’s effective, efficient, and brilliant.
Now this, on the other hand, is not a Swiss Army knife:
It may look like a Swiss Army knife, even carry the name Swiss Army knife, even be manufactured by the same company - but it misses everything this tool stands for.
It’s meant to be a light companion you can carry in your pocket with nothing but the absolute survival essentials, and this monster serves none of those goals. Whoever designed this second knife fell victim to an entrepreneur’s worst disease: feature creep.
Feature creep is when a company keeps adding features to their product that don’t serve the main use case.
A smartphone with a laser pointer is the result of feature creep. So is a lawnmower with a cupholder. Or the draw-by-hand tool in Apple’s iMessage.
These features just…creep in. And then they’re there. But instead of making your life better, they make it worse. Because they clutter what wasn’t cluttered before.
In our lives, we often succumb to feature creep and its many variations. There’s project creep. People creep. Habit creep.
We start a new hobby, and then another one, and another one, and, suddenly, we’re running around, trying to catch the clock.
We meet someone new, and then their friends, and their friends, and, before we know it, we spend our Friday night with a group of strangers we don’t like.
We have a cigarette, just once, at the party, and then another time, and three months later, we smoke a pack a day.
Life is expansive. We have to try and do many things. It’s our duty. But it’s on us to do the expanding, not on our lives to stretch so they can accommodate everything. They won’t and never will. They’re Swiss Army knives, and we’re the ones wielding them.
Don’t let feature creep clutter your life. Think carefully about what you add, and what you want to keep. Take stock regularly. And if you don’t like something, remove it.
You’ve been given a wonderful tool. It carries all the essentials you need to do your work. It’s called your mind, and it’s the sharpest knife in the world.
Now get out there and carve some sticks.
About No Sense Friday: Most people live for Friday. Relaxing on the weekend is fine, but we can’t just waste it away every time. That’s why Friday is the most important day to call out things that make no sense. Because in a way, the concept of ‘Friday’ itself makes no sense.
A good life is lived every day, not just once a week.
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