Essentially…

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“The wisdom of life consists of eliminating the non-essentials.”

–     Lin Yutang (1895 – 1976), Chinese writer, philosopher and inventor

“Less often, more better.”  That’s a good mantra for a finely-tuned, focused, growth company.  (I especially like it because, as long-time subscribers know, “more better” is a technical term here at The Heston Group…)  Or, as Dieter Rams, the German-born designer and consumer products expert says it, “Weniger aber besser,” or less is better.

So, where am I going with this?  Getting to the essentials.  Honing in on the important at the expense of the urgent.  Winning, being successful in the most significant terms…

Greg McKeown’s book, “Essentialism; The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” is a staple for leaders who want to be successful without ultimately permitting their success to be their undoing.  More on that undoing part in a bit…

Non-essentialists are pulled in a hundred directions.  Their energy is scattered about in an attempt to be something to everyone or, worse, all things to all people.  McKeown points out that non-essentialist live unsatisfying lives, and often feel out of control and exhausted.

Essentialists, on the other hand, choose to live a life that matters, focusing on only the few things that really matter.  As the book accurately and compellingly captures, essentialists experience more joy.

As for the concept of success ultimately being our undoing — essentialism is the best defense against the paradox of success, which McKeown captures as:

Phase I:  Clarity of purpose enables us to succeed

Phase II:  Success makes us a “go-to” person

Phase III:  Increased demands on time = diffused efforts / focus

Phase IV:  Distracted; the effect of our “success” undermines the very clarity that creates it

Today, we’ll each likely have several dozen opportunities to focus on the urgent at the expense of the important.  We’ll be tempted by someone or something to diffuse our efforts, water down our clarity and experience less joy.  The essentialists among us will resist the temptation.  We will choose to engage less often, but more better.

If a word picture would help, Seth Godin nails it (yet again) in his blog post this morning, albeit from a slightly different angle.  If we’re “saving a bunch of string that is too short to be saved,” we’re not focused on essentials.

Editor’s Note:  Greg McKeown’s blog is as solid as you’ll find, as well.


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