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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less Paperback – January 1, 2014
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In Essentialism, Greg McKeown, CEO of a Leadership and Strategy agency in Silicon Valley who has run courses at Apple, Google and Facebook, shows you how to achieve what he calls the disciplined pursuit of less. Being an Essentialist is about a disciplined way of thinking. It means challenging the core assumption of ‘We can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time'.
By applying a more selective criteria for what is essential, the pursuit of less allows us to regain control of our own choices so we can channel our time, energy and effort into making the highest possible contribution toward the goals and activities that matter.
- ASIN : 0753555166
- Publisher : Virgin Books (January 1, 2014)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 9780753555163
- ISBN-13 : 978-0753555163
- Item Weight : 9.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.79 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #8,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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"If you have a big presentation coming up over the next few weeks or months, open a file right now and spend four minutes starting to put down any ideas. Then close the file. No more than four minutes. Just start it."
" MIX UP YOUR ROUTINES It’s true that doing the same things at the same time, day after day, can get boring. To avoid this kind of routine fatigue, there’s no reason why you can’t have different routines for different days of the week. Jack Dorsey, the cofounder of Twitter and founder of Square, has an interesting approach to his weekly routine. He has divided up his week into themes. Monday is for management meetings and “running the company” work. Tuesday is for product development. Wednesday is for marketing, communications, and growth. Thursday is for developers and partnerships. Friday is for the company and its culture.9 This routine helps to provide calmness amid the chaos of a high-growth start-up. It enables him to focus his energy on a single theme each day instead of feeling pulled into everything. He adheres to this routine each week, no exceptions, and over time people learn this about him and can organize meetings and requests around it."
“In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.”
“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.”
"The Prophet Muhammad lived an essential life that included mending his own shoes and clothes and milking his own goat and taught his followers in Islam to do the same."
Henry David Thoreau (who wrote, “I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; … so simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real”).
"While other people are padding their résumés and building out their LinkedIn profiles, you will be building a career of meaning."
"The life of an Essentialist is a life lived without regret. If you have correctly identified what really matters, if you invest your time and energy in it, then it is difficult to regret the choices you make. You become proud of the life you have chosen to live."
"If you take one thing away from this book, I hope you will remember this: whatever decision or challenge or crossroads you face in your life, simply ask yourself, “What is essential?” Eliminate everything else."
What this really involves, then, is defining values as you set priorities, because as we all know, if you don’t decide what is the most important use of your time, someone else will. You will end up spending your time—your least renewable resource—pursuing someone else’s agenda rather than your own. Whose success, happiness, fulfillment, and goals are you then working toward? Probably not your own. A lot of McKeown’s advice is simply logical common sense. The fact that in the course of reading the book you so often say “yeah, that makes sense, I should do that,” is probably not an indication that this is all new so much as a reminder that it’s not necessarily easy to take real control of your life. McKeown advises that everyone regularly ask this question: “What is the most important thing for me to do right now?” How often can any of us honestly answer, “Exactly what I’m doing”?
Top reviews from other countries
"Charlie O. Simms taught a Journalism 101 class at Beverly Hills High School. He started... by explaining the concept of a "lead". He explained that a lead contains the why, what , when, and who of the piece. It covers the ESSENTIAL(my emphasis) information. Then he gave them their first assignment: write a lead to a story.
Simms began by presenting the facts of the story: "Kenneth L. Peters, the principal of Beverly Hills High School, announced today that the entire high school faculty will travel to Sacramento next Thursday for a colloquium in new teaching methods. Among the speakers will be anthropologist Margaret Mead, college president Dr. Robert Maynard Hutchins, and California governor Edmund 'Pa' Brown"
The students hammered away on their manual typewriters trying to keep up with the teacher's peace. Then they handed in their rapidly written leads. Each attempted to summarise the who, what where, and why as succinctly as possible: "Margaret Mead, Maynard Hutchins, and Governor Brown will address the faculty on ..."; "Next Thursday, the high school faculty will ..." Simms reviewed the students' leads and put them aside.
He then informed them that they were all wrong. The lead to the story, he said, was "There will be no school on Thursday."
"In that instant," Nora Ephron(of [Sleepless in Seattle] and [When Harry met Sally]) recalled, "I realised that journalism was not just about regurgitating the facts but about figuring out the POINT. It wasn't enough to know the who, what, when, and where; you had to understand what it MEANT. And why it MATTERED." Ephron added, "He taught me something that works just as well in life as it does in journalism." " p73-74
Disclaimer - I have not read a whole lot of management/self-improvement books, so I cannot say that I am a very good judge of the genre. There is a danger that this book is actually littered with tired old cliches that I hadn't noticed, in which case I shouldn't have bothered you with this. That said -
Self-improvement books are a strange breed - myself included, you so often see people who read one and then complain that the book only wrote about the really obvious things. In the same sense, however, homo sapiens are a strange breed who never quite do what they know to be the obviously good things for themselves. grin emoticon Enter, then, the study of management - the study on "coordination of the efforts of people to accomplish goals and objectives by using available resources efficiently and effectively". Sounds like self-improvement on a larger scale, but with the added benefit of providing results from well-designed research.
The author is a management consultant with an MBA degree from Stanford. Perhaps naturally, the book often reads like a business strategy book with plenty of case studies from the corporate world, but as Ephron says, those methods can easily be used for life in general. The book's message can be neatly summed up in one sentence - "Figure out what is really important and essential in your life, and eliminate everything else to focus your efforts and achieve maximum output/contribution to society". The rest of the book is just filled up by how to achieve that goal.
While 'the rest of the book' is coherently structured with a logical, well-suited flow and sensible, well-researched suggestions backed up by sociology/psychology research findings(these days it seems impossible to read something that doesn't quote [Flow] by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and [Thinking Fast and Slow] by Daniel Kahneman, although probably due to my reading interests. Perhaps I should just give up and add them to the reading list), some solutions that the author suggests will just sound implausible. One example is the importance of being able to say no to your boss so that you can concentrate on something more essential. Obviously, I cannot imagine myself doing so to my bosses, consultant surgeons. For some other solutions, I thought they can only be done when one is reasonably financially secure, so that he/she can take the risk/hit by cutting out/declining all the non-essential activities that regularly plague our lives. However, (as my stock-phrase goes) if we are to look at the moon instead of the finger pointing at the moon...
The part that really inspires me in this book is its single-minded pursuit and the determination for what constitutes the most important thing in our lives; what makes our lives meaningful for us(as illustrated in the above anecdote), and what will ultimately enable us to be useful to the rest of the humanity. Sure, it may not always be obvious to all of us, and the method of elimination the book suggests may not guarantee to lead us to an answer. In fact, our lives may quite possibly be meaningless! :-D Nevertheless, for me it is certainly worth a try.
The other aspects that left a strong impression for me was the authors repeated emphasis on how pursuing Essentialism is a choice, and the importance of EMOTIONAL(not intellectual) acceptance of the book's ideas for them to work - which is to say, as discussed at the beginning, it is not because we don't know what to do why we don't do them. There is always a choice, and we simply choose not to.
Following this book's advice , I find I am much happier planning and doing things in my little bit of the present I am conscious of , rather than regretting & blaming long lost , unchangeable circumstances or worrying about what most likely will never happen and this book helps to do just that . The book says we can only alter or try to alter stuff happening now , or "IN THE NOW" , should I write ? .
NB ,though it can help people focus , anxiety may need medical intervention first .
What worked better for me was Tony Crabbe’s Busy. This got more into the psychology of why people tend to overcommit, get distracted or avoid stuff in the first place. Tony Crabbe also uses coaching strategies to help the reader come up with their own solutions.
Sorry - Essentialism wasn’t for me! It may work for some though...