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the master of less: leo babauta

Leo Babuata just released The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life, and is the zen behind ZenHabits.net, a wildly popular blog on simple productivity. I couldn’t resist asking him:

What do you want more of?
There’s nothing physical I’d like more of … in fact, I’m always getting rid of stuff as my possessions naturally accumulate. But there are two things I’d like more of:

1. Patience. I’m not a super impatient guy, but it’s something I’d like to improve as I age.

2. Travel. I love to travel, but I haven’t had the chance to do much of it. There’s so much of the world I want to see!

Assuming that your evil twin is a materialistic, extravagant hoarder, what’s an over-the-top luxury that he’d be craving?
A super-huge monitor for my Mac. I love big monitors. I saw a really beautiful one recently and immediately lusted for it. I’ll never buy it. :)

“How do you keep it simple with six kids?” sounds like a trick question. But really, when they’re pleading for the latest Polly Pocket or Guitar Hero game, how do you convey your essential outlook to them?

I don’t pretend to be the perfect parent — I give in and buy them video games and gadgets all the time, especially for Christmas and their birthdays. And I feel guilty about it afterward.

But parents are only human, and we are striving to improve, and that’s what we want to teach our children — that we can be happy with what we have, but that if we fail and give in to our human frailties, that’s OK. We can just try to do better next time, and figure out a better way.

My kids have learned, through my example, how to get rid of things they don’t use. They’ve learned how to have fun without spending money (though we do spend money to have fun sometimes). They’ve learned what’s important. They’ve learned how to do things for themselves, and how to solve problems and learn things on their own.

I think any parent who’s helped their children do these things — often by getting out of their way — should be proud of the job he’s done.

What’s been the greatest surprise on your journey to blog-dom success?
I’m surprised every day, by things I learn from my readers and other bloggers, by the simple fact that I’m able to do what I do for a living. I keep thinking people are going to catch on to me and I’ll have to find another job, but lo and behold! I get another day to do this crazy job called blogging. It’s a dream come true — a dream I never really dared to do before.

Besides being able to blog for a living, I think what has surprised me the most is that I’ve been able to find success as a writer — especially without having to leave the tiny island of Guam! In the past, a writer would have had to go to one of the major cities, such as New York or Paris or London, to try to make it in the world of writing. I always supposed I’d have to do that, but was too intimidated. But amazingly, I just put my writing out there in blog-land, and I was able to succeed, to be shoulder-to-shoulder with great writers from all over the world!

Who would you like to hand-deliver a copy of The Power of Less to?
Leonardo da Vinci … because the dude just fascinates me. I’m named after him (my dad’s an artist) and I’ve always felt it’s an honor to be named after someone so amazing. Plus, I’d have to travel through time to hand him a copy of my book, and how cool would that be?

But if I had to choose someone living, I would choose William Gibson, the sci-fi author, because that is one seriously cool guy. I don’tknow what I’d say to him. I’d probably pee my pants.

I would say Jessica Alba but my wife might kidney punch me. So just ignore that comment.

What’s your big audacious dream?
I’m already living it! I am self-employed, my own boss, able to work from home, spending time with my beautiful and painfully sexy wife, playing with my six incredibly cool but exhaustingly curious children, living in an exotic tropical island, reading and running and wearing shorts and T-shirts and Birkenstocks. That’s the dream.

I would also like to live in other parts of the world … the south of France, Italy, Japan, Toronto, Brazil, London, Australia, New York, San Francisco … I could go on and on. I will make some of these dreams come true, but time will probably run out before I get to live in all of these places.

One idea at the right time could change everything.