Our Christmas Book List – Part 4 – The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up

20th December 2022

The fourth book on our Christmas list this year is not one you often find in the list of recommended business books but one that we believe is essential if you want to have a happy business.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is, as the title suggests, a book about tidying up, but not any old tidying up, it teaches you how to do it by following the author’s famous, step-by-step, Konmari method. While many people associate this book with The Netflix Series “Tidying up with Marie Kondo” and folding your t-shirts vertically, it was the underlying theory of only keeping things that bring you joy, that helped us on our journey to create our happy workplace.

The author, Marie Kondo, argues that we all have too much stuff in our lives, stuff we don’t use and a lot of stuff that we don’t even like. She believes that if you want to have a tidy home or a tidy life you need to declutter it first and her Konmari method teaches you how to do it. However, rather than just throwing away old stuff that doesn’t work or fit any more, her method involves looking at every single one of your possessions and deciding if they “spark joy”. The idea is that you keep the items that bring you happiness and remove the items that don’t. She argues that once you are surrounded by only objects that “spark joy” you’ll feel happier.

In our early days of Secret Source, we accepted any job that came our way and accumulated an impressive roster of clients, in quite a short time, of clients that continually wanted our services. However, we soon realised that many of them didn’t make us happy. There was no spark of joy when we saw their email arrive in our inbox.

Just as in real life, where you accumulate clothes you don’t wear, gym equipment you don’t use, and presents from your mother that you can’t throw out, we had accumulated clients that we just kept because they paid us to do work. We did a little hosting, a lot of web maintenance, some tech support, email help … you name it, we did it.  It brought in revenue, paid our salaries, but a lot of it didn’t make us want to jump out of bed in the morning.

Right from the start of Secret Source our founder, Richard, has been obsessed with creating the happiest workplace for our team, but with no step-by-step guide on the internet on how to do it, we learnt a lot by trial and error. We often made mistakes. For instance, thinking that having a varied, diverse client-base would be good for us and bring us happiness.

Reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was a light bulb moment in our history, it taught us that if we wanted to be happy at work, the first step was to only surround ourselves with things that make us happy: clients, projects, suppliers and anything else that we might interact with on a daily basis.

So we Marikondo’ed our business and kept only the things that made us happy. We reduced our client list by half and our service offering by even more. We thanked them all for the work they’d given us and found new suppliers for them. From that moment on, we only took on new clients and suppliers that “sparked joy”, people that make us happy and who we can make happy too. Thank you Marie Kondo.

While a business leader interested in bringing more happiness into their company probably doesn’t need to know the best way to store socks, understanding the concept of only surrounding yourself with items and people that spark joy, is a lesson we believe is well worth learning.

If you’re interested in how we’ve built our happiness-first culture as well as how we’re continually challenging ourselves to make a happier company, please follow us on LinkedIn to get regular updates on our progress, and, if you’re curious as to how far we’d go at Secret Source to keep our team happy, check out the interview with our founder on The Karmic Capitalist podcast