If you're overwhelmed or feeling as if your life is going off in different directions, I have three words for you:
Less is more.
This simple phrase suggests a different way of living to deal with today's information and opinion -overloaded world. It's also what best-selling author Greg McKeown proposes in this book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less — a must-read for anyone who wishes to live by design and not by default.
Here are my 3 Takeaways:
1. Essentialists choose.
Right from the beginning, McKeown stresses the importance of our ability to choose — what to think, what to do, how to respond. We must be proactive instead of reactive and if you don't learn to prioritize your life, someone else will.
Did you choose your meal for breakfast this morning? How about the job you're working at? The activities you spend time on or people you hang out with?
The way of the Essentialist means asking ourselves questions like these and evaluating our everyday options. As the author said:
"Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage."
2. Essentialists say, "If it isn't a clear yes, then it's a clear no."
Of course, it's important to first explore and evaluate options before making a decision. In fact, this is one of the qualities of being an Essentialist. But for those times that you seem to have equally good choices, McKeown suggests eliminating anything that isn't clearly impactful or beneficial for you.
The concept of trade-offs is critical here. The author states that you shouldn't focus on what you have to give up; it's about what you want to go big on.
For example, one of the richest and wisest persons on the planet, Warren Buffet, can attribute 90% of his wealth to only 10 of his investments. Once the Oracle of Omaha knew which would make the biggest payoffs in the long run, he didn't spend time, money, and energy on the other so-so ventures.
3. Essentialists eliminate the inessential to discover our highest point of contribution.
While Non-essentialists think "I have to," "It's all important," and "How can I fit it all in?" Essentialists think "I choose to," "Only a few things matter," and "What are the trade-offs?"
In line with these differences, my third and last takeaway from this book is the most critical one.
McKeown introduces a concept called our highest point of contribution. Given that we all have limited resources like time, energy, and attention, how then can we fulfill our duty to discover and fulfill that? The only way is to eliminate the trivial many so we can focus on the vital few.
Want to put these takeaways into action?
Since one of the best ways to improve ourselves is to commit to continuous learning, this post is part of the blog mini-series called 3 Takeaways where I discuss three insights from thought-provoking leaders, books, and podcasts.
My purpose initially was to simply read more books, but the learnings were too valuable to keep to myself. My goal has since been to share the vital lessons that will help you be productive and free.
Share in the comments below: What ways are you practicing Essentialism in your daily life? If you've read this book, what are your takeaways?