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What Is 'Cessation'?

Cessation refers to the conscious choice to stop doing something that's counterproductive.

Since we suffer from Absence Blindness, we tend to believe that we have to always do something to improve a system.

Doing nothing may be the best path in many cases.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Cessation'

Sometimes the best way to improve a system is to stop doing so much.

Cessation is the choice to intentionally stop doing something that's counterproductive.

Due to Absence Blindness, we're predisposed to attempt to improve a system by doing something-it "feels wrong." That doesn't mean that doing nothing is a bad strategy: it's often more effective to do nothing than to do something.

In The One-Straw Revolution, Masanobu Fukuoka wrote about his experiments with natural farming, which mostly involved letting nature take its course, intervening as little as possible. While most farms were introducing chemicals and machinery into agriculture, Fukuoka was doing nothing-and reaping the rewards of high yields and ever-increasing soil richness.

Here's what he had to say about the virtues of Cessation:

Human beings with their tampering do something wrong, leave the damage unrepaired, and when the adverse results accumulate, work with all their might to correct them.

When the corrective actions appear to be successful, they come to view these measures as splendid accomplishments.

People do this over and over again.

It is as if a fool were to stomp on and break the tiles of his roof.

Then when it starts to rain and the ceiling begins to rot away, he hastily climbs up to mend the damage, rejoicing in the end that he as accomplished a miraculous solution.

Instead of trying to do too much, Fukuoka only did what was absolutely necessary. As a result, his fields were consistently among the most productive in the area.

Cessation takes guts. It's often unpopular or unpalatable to do nothing, even if doing nothing is actually the right solution.

A good example, "pricing bubbles" are often caused by government intervention in certain markets, which has the Second-Order Effect of artificially decreasing the costs of certain actions, leading to rampant speculation.

When reality sets in and the bubble "pops," as it did with dot-com companies in 2000 and the housing market in 2008, it's politically unpopular for the government to do nothing, even though doing something is what caused the situation in the first place. More often than not, the government acts, which causes another, bigger bubble a few years later.

Firing customers, quitting your job, discontinuing a product, or pulling out of a market you can't succeed in are all tough decisions, these decision will put you in a better position in the long run.

Doing something is not always the best course of action. Consider doing nothing instead.

Questions About 'Cessation'


"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."

Peter Drucker, father of modern management theory


From Chapter 11:

Understanding Systems


https://personalmba.com/cessation/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

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