Saturday, May 16, 2020

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Earlier this week I finished Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Essentialism is doing only what is important and essential while saying No to all the rest of the things that come to us. This book has made me think if I am doing too much with my limited capability and time. In fact, I am very sure I am doing too much and the book merely pointed out that to me in a crystal clear manner. The idea of essentialism is similar to minimalism, although I think essentialism has a more positive connotation to it. It's fundamental personal discipline and leadership quality. You may have also heard about doing smart work instead of hard work, which is also relevant to this.

Greg tells us that the way of essentialists is to (1) explore and evaluate, (2) eliminate, and (3) execute. With that in mind, I am thinking that I need to optimize my life for the following essential things - family, health, profession, and knowledge. However, I am wondering if there are any of these above 4 I should further consider eliminating. For example, family will cover not only my immediate family members but relatives and friends. Health will cover both physical and meantal health. Profession will cover what I do best in my work and getting better at it over time. Knowledge will cover many of the other things I do including reading, writing, travel, music, spirituality. However, am I again getting into the trap of being too inclusive? I need to think more to come up with the right words and narratives in the coming days. So you can imagine that this is a book which will make you think and hence you should read it.

Here are some of the quotes I liked in this book.
  • Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.
  • The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities.
  • A popular idea in Silicon Valley is “Done is better than perfect.
  • You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.
  • Today, technology has lowered the barrier for others to share their opinion about what we should be focusing on. It is not just information overload; it is opinion overload.
  • The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. If we underinvest in ourselves, and by that I mean our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution.
  • Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.
  • Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not as an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, "What do I have to give up?" they ask, "What do I want to go big on?"
  • We overvalue nonessentials like a nicer car or house, or even intangibles like the number of our followers on Twitter or the way we look in our Facebook photos. As a result, we neglect activities that are truly essential, like spending time with our loved ones, or nurturing our spirit, or taking care of our health.
  • Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.
  • If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.
  • Just because I was invited didn’t seem a good enough reason to attend.

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