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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less Hardcover – April 15, 2014
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"Do you feel it, too? That relentless pressure to sample all the good things in life? To do all the 'right' things? The reality is, you don’t make progress that way. Instead, you’re in danger of spreading your efforts so thin that you make no impact at all. Greg McKeown believes the answer lies in paring life down to its essentials. He can’t tell you what’s essential to every life, but he can help you find the meaning in yours.”
-- Daniel H. Pink, author of TO SELL IS HUMAN and DRIVE
“Entrepreneurs succeed when they say "yes" to the right project, at the right time, in the right way. To accomplish this, they have to be good at saying "no" to all their other ideas. Essentialism offers concise and eloquent advice on how to determine what you care about most, and how to apply your energies in ways that ultimately bring you the greatest rewards.”
-- Reid Hoffman, co-founder/chairman of LinkedIn and co-author of the #1 NYT bestseller “The Start-up of You”
"Greg McKeown’s excellent new book is a much-needed antidote to the stress, burnout and compulsion to “do everything,” that infects us all. It is an Essential read for anyone who wants to regain control of their health, well-being, and happiness."
-–Arianna Huffington, Co-founder, president, and editor in chief, Huffington Post Media Group”
“Essentialism holds the keys to solving one of the great puzzles of life: how can we do less but accomplish more? A timely, essential read for anyone who feels overcommitted, overloaded, or overworked—in other words, everyone. It has already changed the way that I think about my own priorities, and if more leaders embraced this philosophy, our jobs and our lives would be less stressful and more productive. So drop what you’re doing and read it..”
--Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take
“As a self-proclaimed "maximalist" who always wants to do it all, this book challenged me and improved my life. If you want to work better, not just less, you should read it too.”
- Chris Guillebeau, NYT bestselling author of The $100 Startup
"Great design takes us beyond the complex, the unnecessary and confusing, to the simple, clear and meaningful. This is as true for the design of a life as it is for the design of a product. With Essentialism, Greg McKeown gives us the invaluable guidebook for just such a project."
-Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO
"In Essentialism, Greg McKeown makes a compelling case for achieving more by doing less. He reminds us that clarity of focus and the ability to say ‘no’ are both critical and undervalued in business today."
-Jeff Weiner, CEO, LinkedIn
"While everyone else is still leafing through Lean In or Outliers, get a competitive jump on the new year with....Essentialism... learn how to identify the right things, focus on getting them done, and forget the rest. In other words, 'do less, but better.'” -Forbes
“Essentialism is a powerful antidote to the current craziness that plagues our organizations and our lives. Read Greg McKeown’s words slowly, stop and think about how to apply them to your life – you will do less, do it better, and begin to feel the insanity start to slip away.”
- Robert I. Sutton, Professor at Stanford University and author of Good Boss, Bad Boss and Scaling Up Excellence.
In a world of increasing chaos and complexity, the ideas and tools of Essentialism turn chaos into commitment and complexity into accomplishment. This timely, well written book is a must read and do for any employee, manager, leader, or parent whoever feels overwhelmed. It is truly the right book at the right time.
- Dave Ulrich, Professor, University of Michigan School of Business and Partner, the RBL Group
"Essentialism is a rare gem that will change lives. Greg offers deep insights, rich context and actionable steps to living life at its fullest. I've started on the path to an Essentialist way of life, and the impact on my productivity and well-being is profound."
-Bill Rielly, Senior Vice President, Intel Security
"In this likeable and astute treatise on the art of doing less in order to do better...McKeown makes the content fresh and the solutions easy to implement. Following his lucid and smart directions will help readers fine "the way of the essentialist" -Success Magazine
"Essentialism will give you richer, sweeter results and put you in real control, giving greater precision to the pursuit of what truly matters.” -Forbes.com
About the Author
Greg McKeown writes, teaches, and speaks around the world on the importance of living and leading as an Essentialist. He has spoken at companies including Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Salesforce.com, Symantec, and Twitter and is among the most popular bloggers for the Harvard Business Review and LinkedIn Influencer’s group. He co-created the course, Designing Life, Essentially at Stanford University, was a collaborator of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Multipliers and serves as a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum. He holds an MBA from Stanford University. www.gregmckeown.com
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Top Customer Reviews
maybe it just happened to find me at the right time in my own journey, but i loved this book. It talks in a very clear and straightforward manner about how to simplify your life, your thinking, and your purpose to cut out all the extraneous "stuff" that continually distracts us and focus in on what's really important. People and things (like email!) continual to swirl around us, competing for our attention. When we let them have our attention without being thoughtful, they fill up your life instead of YOU filling up your life and deciding for yourself what your priorities are. It also makes the very commonsense point that when we have 15 different priorities, we have no priorities!
Read this book. I felt like it was a great use of time, it had a lot of important things to say, and it was concise in how it said it.
"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."
This is one of the best books I have read in the last decade for two reasons. First the book is extremely well researched. Secondly it is written in a clear, concise, and cohesive manner. There is ample content and very little fluff. McKeown practiced wha the preaches in the writing of this text. I will be recommending this book for years to come.
This book may not be for everybody. If your life is manageable, filled with satisfying activities, and you're progressing at the pace you want, you may not need this book. But for those who feel overloaded, distracted, stuck in the mire of doing a lot but not progressing on what matters to you, you might find it of interest. Although there are time and life management books by Stephen Covey, Brian Tracey, Julia Morgenstern, David Allen etc., this book approaches life management from a fresh angle: essentialism. It is filled with contemporary examples which are relevant in 2014.
Four E's constitute the process of essentialism says McKeown: Essence, Explore, Eliminate and Execute. The goal is to do less, but better writes McKeown. It's a disciplined pursuit of less he writes. "If you don't prioritize your life, someone else will," McKeown says. He recommends asking yourself continually: "Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources right now?" Or, to discern what is essential to you, how about this question: "If you could do one thing with your life right now, what would it be?" The aim is to live by design, not default. You practice distinguishing between the trivial many and the vital few.
Under the umbrella of each of the four E's of essence, explore, eliminate and execute, McKeown lists mindsets and actions to live more essentially. Take execute, one of my favorite sections, McKeown outlines: buffering - prepare contingencies and expect the unexpected, subtracting - bring forth more by removing obstacles, progress - the power of small wins which harnesses the power of steadiness and repetition, flow - capture the genius of the best routines, focus - figure out what's important now and be - the essentialist life of more clarity, more control, and more joy in the journey.
Threaded throughout are abundant examples of individuals who live by the principles and actions described in this book. Warren Buffet seems to practice essentialism in his approach to investing about which Buffet says humorously: "Our investment philosophy borders on lethargy." Doing more by doing less. There's the example of business prophet Peter Drucker who is quoted forecasting: "In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time - literally - substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it." This book offers ideas on how to manage yourself and what is essential to you.
Clarity = success promises this book. It makes sense that if you practice essentialist principles, it will revolutionize your life. You will create more of what you want, and eliminate more of what you don't want, enabling you to do more by doing less. This is life transforming, and one of the best books I have read recently in which the message is potentially life-changing. Like the book's design, too, with the jazzy black and white graphics.