Essentialism: Book Review 4/4
The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less
Essentialism: written by Greg Mckowen. This is one of the most important books I’ve read. It serves to remind us to distill the few vital things and take action on our unique purpose in life. It assists us in identifying what all the trivial distractions are and encourages us to eliminate them. It’s brought a lot of value to my life and I believe it will do the same for you.
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0:00 - Prelude
2:00 - Important Announcements: Listener Support
6:23 - Claim your FREE audiobook
8:28 - How to Make Execution Effortless
9:20 - The Unfair Advantage
16:05 - Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles
17:40 - Produce More by Removing More
21:42 - The Power of Small Wins
25:15 - The Genius of Routine
29:29 - Making It Look Easy
31:43 - What’s Important Now?
34:13 - The Essentialist Life
35:30 - Majoring In Minor Activities
37:05 - More Clarity
41:00 - Living a Life That Really Matters
45:50 - Leadership Essentials
47:27 - Essentialist Teams
50:05 - Be Ridiculously Selective In Hiring People
55:52 - Go For Extreme Empowerment
59:29 - Check In Often To Ensure Meaningful Progress
1:02:30 - Summary Reflections
1:05:45 - Epilogue
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How to Make Execution Effortless
There are two ways of thinking about execution.
While Nonessentialists tend to force execution, Essentialists invest the time they have saved by eliminating the nonessentials into designing a system to make execution almost effortless.
It is human nature to want to do easy things. In this part of the book you’ll learn how to make executing the right things—the essential things—as easy and frictionless as possible.
Bring Forth More by Removing Obstacles
What is the “weakest link” in your job or your life? What is the obstacle that is keeping you back from achieving what really matters to you? By systematically identifying and removing this “constraint” you’ll be able to significantly reduce the friction keeping you from executing what is essential.
If you really want to improve the overall functioning of the system—whether that system is a manufacturing process, a procedure in your department, or some routine in your daily life—you need to identify the weakest link.
While the Nonessentialist is busy applying more and more pressure and piling on more and more solutions, Essentialists look for the most obvious or immediate obstacles, they look for the ones slowing down progress. They ask, “What is getting in the way of achieving what is essential?”
The Power of Small Wins
The way of the Nonessentialist is to go big on everything: to try to do it all, and have it all. The Nonessentialist operates under the false logic that the more they strive, the more they will achieve, but the reality is, the more we reach for the stars, the harder it is to get ourselves off the ground.
The way of the Essentialist is different. Instead of trying to accomplish it all—and all at once—and flaring out, the Essentialist starts small and celebrates progress. Instead of going for the big, flashy wins that don’t really matter, the Essentialist pursues small and simple wins in areas that are essential.
When we want to create major change we often think we need to lead with something huge or grandiose. However, just think of all of the “big,” hyped-up initiatives in organizations that never ended up amounting to anything.
Instead of starting big and then flaring out with nothing to show for it other than time and energy wasted, to really get essential things done we need to start small and build momentum. Then we can use that momentum to work toward the next win, and the next one and so on until we have a significant breakthrough—and when we do, our progress will have become so frictionless and effortless that the breakthrough will seem like overnight success.
Living a Life That Really Matters
The life of an Essentialist is a life of meaning. It is a life that really matters.
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.
Whatever decision or challenge or crossroads you face in your life, simply ask yourself, “What is essential?” Eliminate everything else.
If you are ready to look inside yourself for the answer to this question, then you are ready to commit to the way of the Essentialist.
Essentialism as a way of thinking and acting is as relevant to the way we lead companies and teams as it is to the way we lead our lives.
Life on teams today is fast and full of opportunity. When teams are unified, the abundance of opportunity can be a good thing. But when teams lack clarity of purpose, it becomes difficult if not impossible to discern which of these myriad opportunities are truly vital.
An Essentialist leader makes a different choice. With clarity of purpose, they are able to apply “less but better” to everything from talent selection, to direction, to roles, to communication, to accountability. As a result their team becomes unified and breaks through to the next level.
BE RIDICULOUSLY SELECTIVE IN HIRING PEOPLE
A Nonessentialist tends to hire people frantically and impulsively—then gets too busy or distracted to either dismiss or reskill the people keeping the team back.
An Essentialist, on the other hand, is ridiculously selective on talent. They have the discipline to hold out for the perfect hire and doesn’t hesitate to remove people who hold the team back.
CHECK IN OFTEN TO ENSURE MEANINGFUL PROGRESS
By taking the time to get clear about the one thing that is really required, the Essentialist leader makes follow-up so easy and frictionless that it actually happens. By checking in with people frequently to reward small wins and help people remove obstacles, he bolsters the team’s motivation and focus and enables them to make more meaningful progress.
Leading according to the principle of “less but better” will enable your team to amplify their level of collective contribution and achieve something truly remarkable.
And here is a quote to close out this final section of this book. As expressed by Ela Bhatt, who is a classic Essentialist and truly visionary leader.
"Out of all virtues simplicity is my most favorite virtue. So much so that I tend to believe that simplicity can solve most of the problems, personal as well as the world problems. If the life approach is simple, then one need not lie so frequently, nor quarrel nor steal, nor envy, anger, or abuse. Everyone will have enough, so they need not hoard, nor hate. When character is beautiful, you are beautiful. That is the beauty of simplicity."