Essentialism: Book Review 2/4
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.
Scroll down to see how you can support me in continuing to elevate this show. Keep going to follow the episode timeline and to read some of the book transcriptions. Get all the way down for all the videos, shareable enhanced excerpts, reference links, resources, featured musical artist, and more.
0:00 - Prologue
2:35 - Important Announcements: Listener Support
6:57 - Claim your FREE audiobook
9:30 - Discern the Vital Few from the Trivial Many
12:32 - The Perks of Being Unavailable
14:12 - Space to Concentrate
20:00 - The Big Picture
20:55 - Filter for the Fascinating
24:02 - Sleep: Protect The Asset
27:37 - Shattering the Sleep Stigma
31:05 - The 90 Percent Rule
33:55 - Selective & Explicit
36:15 - My summary reflections
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Discern the Vital Few from the Trivial Many
One paradox of Essentialism is that Essentialists actually explore more options than their Nonessentialist counterparts. Nonessentialists get excited by virtually everything and thus react to everything. But because they are so busy pursuing every opportunity and idea they actually explore less.
The way of the Essentialist, on the other hand, is to explore and evaluate a broad set of options before committing to any. Because Essentialists will commit and “go big” on only the vital few ideas or activities, they explore more options at first to ensure they pick the right one later.
In a Nonessentialist culture these things—space, listening, playing, sleeping, and selecting—can be seen as trivial distractions. At best they are considered nice to have. At worst they are derided as evidence of weakness and wastefulness.
The Perks of Being Unavailable
We need space to escape in order to discern the essential few from the trivial many. Unfortunately, in our time-starved era we don’t get that space by default—only by design.
Before you can evaluate what is and isn’t essential, you first need to explore your options. While Nonessentialists automatically react to the latest idea, jump on the latest opportunity, or respond to the latest e-mail, Essentialists choose to create the space to explore and ponder.
Space to Design
In order to have focus we need to escape to focus.
When I say focus, I mean creating the space to explore one hundred questions and possibilities. An Essentialist focuses the way our eyes focus; not by fixating on something but by constantly adjusting and adapting to the field of vision.
Filter for the Fascinating
Discerning what is essential to explore requires us to be disciplined in how we scan and filter all the competing and conflicting facts, options, and opinions constantly vying for our attention.
Essentialists are powerful observers and listeners. Knowing that the reality of trade-offs means they can’t possibly pay attention to everything, they listen deliberately for what is not being explicitly stated. They read between the lines.
Nonessentialists listen too. But they listen while preparing to say something. They get distracted by extraneous noise. They hyper-focus on inconsequential details. They hear the loudest voice but they get the wrong message. In their eagerness to react they miss the point.
The 90 Percent Rule
If the answer isn’t a definite yes then it should be a no. This is a succinct summary of a core Essentialist principle, and one that is critical to the process of exploration.
This is a rule you can apply to just about every decision or dilemma. As you evaluate an option, think about the single most important criteria for that decision, and then give the option a score between 0 and 100. If you rate it any lower than 90 percent, then automatically change the rating to 0 and simply reject it. This way you avoid getting caught up in indecision, or worse, getting stuck with the 60s or 70s.
Mastering this Essentialist skill, perhaps more than any other in this section, requires us to be vigilant about acknowledging the reality of trade-offs. The very act of applying selective criteria forces you to choose which perfect option to wait for, rather than letting other people, or the universe, choose for you.
Like any Essentialist skill, it forces you to make decisions by design, rather than default.