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Essentialism Book Summary | The Disciplined Pursuit of Less | Greg McKeown | bestbookbits.com


The Book in Three Sentences

  1. “Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.”
  2. “The way of the Essentialist rejects the idea that we can fit it all in.”
  3. “When faced with so many tasks and obligations that you can’t figure out which to tackle first, stop. Take a deep breath. Get present in the moment and ask yourself what is most important this very second – not what’s most important tomorrow or even an hour from now.”

Essentialism Summary

  • “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”.
  • “The way of the Essentialist rejects the idea that we can fit it all in. Instead, it requires us to grapple with real trade-offs and make tough decisions. In many cases, we can learn to make one-time decisions that make a thousand future decisions so we don’t exhaust ourselves asking the same questions again and again.”
  • Question: “Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution towards my goal?”
  • “Studies have found that we tend to value things we already own more highly than they are worth and thus that we find them more difficult to get rid of.”
  • Question: “If I didn’t already own this, how much would I spend to buy it?”

The three realities of the Essentialist:

  1. Individual choice: We can choose how to spend our energy and time.
  2. The prevalence of noise: Almost everything is noise, and very few things are exceptionally valuable.
  3. The reality of trade-offs: We can’t have it all or do it all.

We can ask three questions:

  1. “What do I feel deeply inspired by?”
  2. “What am I particularly talented at?”
  3. “What meets a significant need in the world?”
  • “Essentialists invest the time they have saved into creating a system for removing obstacles and making execution as easy as possible.”
  • “Essentialism is not a way to do one more thing; it is a different way of doing everything. It is a way of thinking.”
  • “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 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 non-essential stupor. They free us to pursue what really matters. They enable us to live at our highest level of contribution.”
  • Question: “If you could do only one thing with your life right now, what would you do?”
  • “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.”
  • “Instead of asking, ‘What do I have to give up?’ [Essentialists] ask, ‘What do I want to go big on?’”
  • “In your life, 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?’”
  • “And while conforming to what people in a group expect of us – what psychologists call normative conformity – is no longer a matter of life and death, the desire is still deeply ingrained in us.”
  • “Essentialists accept the reality that we can never fully anticipate or prepare for every scenario or eventuality; the future is simply too unpredictable. Instead, they build in buffers to reduce the friction caused by the unexpected.”
  • “When faced with so many tasks and obligations that you can’t figure out which to tackle first, stop. Take a deep breath. Get present in the moment and ask yourself what is most important this very second – not what’s most important tomorrow or even an hour from now.”
  • “The iconoclastic entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel took ‘less but better’ to an unorthodox level when he insisted that PayPal employees select one single priority in their role – and focus on that exclusively. As PayPal executive Keith Rabois recalls: ‘Peter required that everyone be tasked with exactly one priority. He would refuse to discuss virtually anything else with you except what was currently assigned as your No. 1 initiative. Even our annual review forms in 2001 required each employee to identify their single most valuable contribution to the company’. The result was the employees were empowered to do anything within the confines of that clearly defined role that they felt would make a high level of contribution to the shared mission of the company.”
  • “Distinguish the vital few from the trivial many.”

 

Shout out to samuelthomasdavies.com for doing this written summary

To buy the book, click the link in the image below to purchase from Book Depository

 

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