Framing the Dialogue


“the basic value proposition of Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

“There are three deeply entrenched assumptions we must conquer to live the way of the Essentialist: “I have to,” “It’s all important,” and “I can do both.” Like mythological sirens, these assumptions are as dangerous as they are seductive. They draw us in and drown us in shallow waters. To embrace the essence of Essentialism requires we replace these false assumptions with three core truths: “I choose to,” “Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything.” These simple truths awaken us from our nonessential stupor. They free us.”

Essentialism by Greg McKeown may be the easiest book review to write for me.  I can just load it up with quotes and notes from my reading of the book.  I didn’t expect much, but it looked intriguing to me.  But this book hit home for me.  At work I get pulled in to many very small things that actually take away from my ability to do the things that I know are important.  Since reading this book I am beginning to weed my way out of non-important stuff.  This is challenging as I work for other people who may not see things my way.  Funny thing is that I’ve been a manager for about three years and have so much work that I often complain to myself that “I wish I could just manage.”  I don’t mean managing my colleagues, but our processes.  We have far too much of “this is the way we’ve always done things.”

I believe the subtitle of the book, “The disciplined pursuit of less” says so much.  To do this requires discipline, a desired pursuit, and the less is not doing less, but doing better.  I plan on using this book over and over again.  Because of my position some of my “saying no” may be just not doing what others want.  I often describe my position on the organization chart by turning it upside down and I’m the narrow point at the bottom of the funnel from which all must flow.

this is not a book for dealing with work issues as most of the techniques are necessary for your home life too.  I’ll leave with a couple of quotes from the book, but you really need to read this;

“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.”

“My experience has taught me this about how people and organizations improve: the best place to look is for small changes we could make in the things we do often. There is power in steadiness and repetition.”

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