Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Greg McKeown (born in London, England, in 1977) is a public speaker, leadership and business consultant, and an author. He is the founder and CEO of THIS, Inc., a leadership and strategy design agency based in Silicon Valley.

When we don’t purposefully and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and time, other people— our bosses, our colleagues, our clients, and even our families— will choose for us, and before long we’ll have lost sight of everything that is meaningful and important. We can either make our choices deliberately or allow other people’s agendas to control our lives.

These are my takeaways from this book

  1. Like Derek Sivers says: “If it isn’t a Hell Yeah!; it’s a NO”. Don’t commit to something if you are not sure about it.
  2. In order to be Focus, you need to set time aside for what is important.
  3. Have a growth mindset and think that you can do anything, but be pragmatic knowing that you can’t do it all at the same time. Unless you are leveraging people’s time and energy, but that will be a topic for another post.
  4. Trade-Off the unimportant things for the things that are important to you and things that will help you achieve your goals. Be smart and strategically about it.
  5. Make time for yourself.
  6. You need to find out what is important for you and what is it that you want to do or somebody else will.
  7. Teams function better if there is a purpose.
  8. Live with Intent: Creating a life with intent is hard. It takes courage, insight and foresight to see which activities and efforts will add up to your single highest point of contribution. It takes asking though questions, making real trade-offs, and exercising serious discipline to cut out the competing priorities that distract us from our true intention.
  9. Look for clarity in all aspects of your life. It will help you identify what is important and the power to say NO to the nonessential stuff.

Actionable Items

  1. Find things to cut out of your life. The more trivial things you can eliminate the better you will be at what is left; the things that really matter.
  2. Only a few things are vital to our goals and well-being.

My Take

The name of the game is long-term thinking. Through great investors, like Warren Buffett, we have seen that applying the long-term approach is the best way to be successful. Somehow you need to correlate your day-to-day decision-making process, to your long-term goals (big picture) or to the things that are important to you. There is a lot of people that talk about the importance of focusing on the things that matter most -and many people do- but to see people who dare to live it is rare. If you don’t have the discipline or courage to say NO or to live the life of a essentialist you just are fooling yourself.

We can apply the long-term approach to businesses, our personal life and relationships. The only thing that I have to say about this book is that the author didn’t need 200+ pages to say the same thing. It was repetitive.