Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Brought to you by Penguin.
Have you ever found yourself struggling with information overload?
Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilised?
Do you ever feel busy but not productive?
If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is to become an essentialist.
In Essentialism, Greg McKeown, CEO of a leadership and strategy agency in Silicon Valley who has run courses at Apple, Google and Facebook, shows you how to achieve what he calls the disciplined pursuit of less. Being an essentialist is about a disciplined way of thinking. It means challenging the core assumptions of "we can have it all" and "I have to do everything" and replacing them with the pursuit of "the right thing in the right way at the right time".
By applying a more selective criteria for what is essential, the pursuit of less allows us to regain control of our own choices so we can channel our time, energy and effort into making the highest possible contribution toward the goals and activities that matter.
Using the experience and insight of working with the leaders of the most innovative companies and organisations in the world, McKeown shows you how to put Essentialism into practice in your own life, so you, too, can achieve something great.
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|Listening Length||6 hours and 14 minutes|
|Audible.in Release Date||26 November 2015|
|Publisher||Random House AudioBooks|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #101 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#2 in Social Sciences (Audible Books & Originals)
#26 in Business & Careers
#391 in Society & Culture (Books)
Reviewed in India on 2 February 2021
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Book Summary : Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.
1. 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.” Essentialism is about pausing constantly to ask, “Am I investing in the right activities?
2. 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 your highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.
3. The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. The way of the Essentialist is the path to being in control of our own choices. It is a path to new levels of success and meaning. It is the path on which we enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
4. If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. "When we don’t purposefully and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and time, other people – our bosses, our colleagues, our clients, and even our families – will choose for us, and before long we’ll have lost sight of everything that is meaningful and important.
5. Before saying yes to anything, ask yourself, “Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution towards my goal?”
6. Essentialists ask, “What do I feel deeply inspired by?” and “What am I particularly talented at?” and “What meets a significant need in the world?
7. Essentialists invest the time they have saved into creating a system for removing obstacles and making execution as easy as possible.
8. Essentialism is not a way to do one more thing; it is a different way of doing everything. It is a way of thinking.
9. 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.’ 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. Ask yourself, “If you could do only one thing with your life right now, what would you do?”
10. To become an Essentialist requires a heightened awareness of our ability to choose. When we forget our ability to choose, we learn to be helpless. Drip by drip we allow our power to be taken away until we end up becoming a function of other people’s choices—or even a function of our own past choices.”
11. A non-Essentialist thinks almost everything is essential. An Essentialist thinks almost everything is non-essential. We live in a world where almost everything is worthless and a very few things are exceptionally valuable. Many capable people are kept from getting to the next level of contribution because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important.
12. Trade-Off—Which Problem Do I Want? : A non-Essentialist approaches every trade-off by asking, ‘How can I do both?’ Essentialists ask the tougher but ultimately more liberating question, ‘Which problem do I want? Instead of asking, ‘What do I have to give up?’ Essentialists ask, ‘What do I want to go big on?’”
13. To discern what is truly essential we need space to think, time to look and listen, permission to play, wisdom to sleep, and the discipline to apply highly selective criteria to the choices we make.”
14. Look—See What Really Matters : “Being a journalist of your own life will force you to stop hyper-focusing on all the minor details and see the bigger picture. One of the most obvious and yet powerful ways to become a journalist of our own lives is simply to keep a journal.”
15. Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritise. Select -The Power of Extreme Criteria : The 90 Percent Rule: “As you evaluate an option, think about the single most important criterion for that decision, and then simply 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. If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.
16. The killer question when deciding what activities to eliminate is: “If I didn’t have this opportunity, what would I be willing to do to acquire it?
17. Dare—The Power of a Graceful “No” : “Only once we separate the decision from the relationship can we make a clear decision and then separately find the courage and compassion to communicate it.” Essentialists accept they cannot be popular with everyone all of the time.
18. Uncommit—Win Big by Cutting Your Losses : Sunk-cost bias is the tendency to continue to invest time, money, or energy into something we know is a losing proposition simply because we have already incurred, or sunk, a cost that cannot be recouped. An Essentialist has the courage and confidence to admit his or her mistakes and uncommit, no matter the sunk costs.
19. Don’t ask, “How will I feel if I miss out on this opportunity?” but rather, “If I did not have this opportunity, how much would I be willing to sacrifice in order to obtain it?” Similarly, we can ask, “If I wasn’t already involved in this project, how hard would I work to get on it? Essentialists accept the reality that we can never fully anticipate or prepare for every scenario or eventuality; the future is simply too unpredictable.
20. Progress—The Power of Small Wins : “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.”
Whatever decision or challenge or crossroads you face in your life, simply ask yourself, “What is essential?” Eliminate everything else.
Though many of the concepts, pitfalls, opportunities, and examples are generally things we might already know of, the distinction that the author brings out through the tables mentioned above, make it interesting reading. Across a spectrum of work & family-based stories, examples, and experiences, the author has expressed his thoughts in a humble and vulnerable way. Looking forward to applying the concepts of essentialism! (as well as, Effortless, the next book by this author!)
The language is lucid and the chapters are explained with examples, charts and tables to make it easier for the reader's to understand various concepts.
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 2 February 2021
The language is lucid and the chapters are explained with examples, charts and tables to make it easier for the reader's to understand various concepts.
Top reviews from other countries
1. I have become much better at saying no, but saying it nicely or without actually using the word!
2. I have become better at getting things done and prioritising what is and is not important to me (although that is still work in progress)
3. I have become better at time management.
4. I procrastinate less (not totally gone, but also work in progress)
All in all a very useful and thought provoking guide to help you take back control of areas of your life. It has certainly helped reduce my stresses and anxiety in life and I would strongly recommend reading if you are stressed or anxious.
"Charlie O. Simms taught a Journalism 101 class at Beverly Hills High School. He started... by explaining the concept of a "lead". He explained that a lead contains the why, what , when, and who of the piece. It covers the ESSENTIAL(my emphasis) information. Then he gave them their first assignment: write a lead to a story.
Simms began by presenting the facts of the story: "Kenneth L. Peters, the principal of Beverly Hills High School, announced today that the entire high school faculty will travel to Sacramento next Thursday for a colloquium in new teaching methods. Among the speakers will be anthropologist Margaret Mead, college president Dr. Robert Maynard Hutchins, and California governor Edmund 'Pa' Brown"
The students hammered away on their manual typewriters trying to keep up with the teacher's peace. Then they handed in their rapidly written leads. Each attempted to summarise the who, what where, and why as succinctly as possible: "Margaret Mead, Maynard Hutchins, and Governor Brown will address the faculty on ..."; "Next Thursday, the high school faculty will ..." Simms reviewed the students' leads and put them aside.
He then informed them that they were all wrong. The lead to the story, he said, was "There will be no school on Thursday."
"In that instant," Nora Ephron(of [Sleepless in Seattle] and [When Harry met Sally]) recalled, "I realised that journalism was not just about regurgitating the facts but about figuring out the POINT. It wasn't enough to know the who, what, when, and where; you had to understand what it MEANT. And why it MATTERED." Ephron added, "He taught me something that works just as well in life as it does in journalism." " p73-74
Disclaimer - I have not read a whole lot of management/self-improvement books, so I cannot say that I am a very good judge of the genre. There is a danger that this book is actually littered with tired old cliches that I hadn't noticed, in which case I shouldn't have bothered you with this. That said -
Self-improvement books are a strange breed - myself included, you so often see people who read one and then complain that the book only wrote about the really obvious things. In the same sense, however, homo sapiens are a strange breed who never quite do what they know to be the obviously good things for themselves. grin emoticon Enter, then, the study of management - the study on "coordination of the efforts of people to accomplish goals and objectives by using available resources efficiently and effectively". Sounds like self-improvement on a larger scale, but with the added benefit of providing results from well-designed research.
The author is a management consultant with an MBA degree from Stanford. Perhaps naturally, the book often reads like a business strategy book with plenty of case studies from the corporate world, but as Ephron says, those methods can easily be used for life in general. The book's message can be neatly summed up in one sentence - "Figure out what is really important and essential in your life, and eliminate everything else to focus your efforts and achieve maximum output/contribution to society". The rest of the book is just filled up by how to achieve that goal.
While 'the rest of the book' is coherently structured with a logical, well-suited flow and sensible, well-researched suggestions backed up by sociology/psychology research findings(these days it seems impossible to read something that doesn't quote [Flow] by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and [Thinking Fast and Slow] by Daniel Kahneman, although probably due to my reading interests. Perhaps I should just give up and add them to the reading list), some solutions that the author suggests will just sound implausible. One example is the importance of being able to say no to your boss so that you can concentrate on something more essential. Obviously, I cannot imagine myself doing so to my bosses, consultant surgeons. For some other solutions, I thought they can only be done when one is reasonably financially secure, so that he/she can take the risk/hit by cutting out/declining all the non-essential activities that regularly plague our lives. However, (as my stock-phrase goes) if we are to look at the moon instead of the finger pointing at the moon...
The part that really inspires me in this book is its single-minded pursuit and the determination for what constitutes the most important thing in our lives; what makes our lives meaningful for us(as illustrated in the above anecdote), and what will ultimately enable us to be useful to the rest of the humanity. Sure, it may not always be obvious to all of us, and the method of elimination the book suggests may not guarantee to lead us to an answer. In fact, our lives may quite possibly be meaningless! :-D Nevertheless, for me it is certainly worth a try.
The other aspects that left a strong impression for me was the authors repeated emphasis on how pursuing Essentialism is a choice, and the importance of EMOTIONAL(not intellectual) acceptance of the book's ideas for them to work - which is to say, as discussed at the beginning, it is not because we don't know what to do why we don't do them. There is always a choice, and we simply choose not to.
What worked better for me was Tony Crabbe’s Busy. This got more into the psychology of why people tend to overcommit, get distracted or avoid stuff in the first place. Tony Crabbe also uses coaching strategies to help the reader come up with their own solutions.
Sorry - Essentialism wasn’t for me! It may work for some though...