Essentialism: A Business Book That’s Far More
The surprising Catholicity of a business book
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown (Crown, 2014), was mentioned in a by-the-way manner on a call with my mastermind group. I really respected that person's mention, took it as a recommendation, and ordered the book.
It then sat on a bookshelf gathering dust until we turned our house upside down rearranging and reworking our living space.
As I put it back on a different shelf in a different room, considering whether I would keep it or give it away, I remembered how Lisa had said, ever so casually, that it was a really helpful read.
I'm in a strange juncture right now, and "really helpful" triggered my desire to read it.
So I picked it up on a Sunday, instead of firing up my laptop to try to squeeze in more work.
Four days later, I was finished with it, but not before sharing images of it all over my social media channels and feeling my brain exploding.
The last time I had this experience with a business book, I was reading Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
In fact, I hate calling this a business book, because in so many ways, it feels like a "life" book. (The same is true of Covey's writing.)
It seemed to reach far beyond my business background and into every nook and cranny of my life, from faith to parenthood and all the things in between.
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. Despite all these benefits, however, there are too many forces conspiring to keep us from applying the disciplined pursuit of less but better, which may be why so many end up on the misdirected path of the Nonessentialist.
On the page following this excerpt is a sentence that I could paint on my wall: If you don't prioritize your life, someone else will.
I need that reminder. And don't we all, especially as we carry around an electronic tether and find ourselves treating Saturday as the new Friday?
As Sundays become the most profitable day for retailers, I can’t help but think about my own habits and how they need to change…how they can so very easily change.
So often, we approach our lives as though they are a tunnel, and as though there is only one straight way through. Even when we're at a juncture, we consider that there's an A or B choice, not that we could choose both (or neither).
Sometimes, we just need something to shake us up, turn us upside down, remind us of what's truly important.
There are many ways this can happen, and surely a book isn't just the only way. I've had more than one of these experiences in the last decade, and I'm sure you have too.
But what do you do with them? How do you actually change your life and your way of executing?
That's one of the things I really appreciated about Essentialism. McKeown isn't speaking in theoreticals, he's speaking in practicalities. And he's not wasting words doing it.
Another quote (also in about 24-point font on the page): If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.
Takes the gray out of things…and before you start arguing with all the exceptions you can think of (as I may or may not have done), stop for a minute.
Is “maybe” really an option?
How often do you settle for “maybe”? How often does “maybe” turn into “yes” just because you don’t say “no”?
To drill down in this book, especially following my morning spiritual reading, was both invigorating and provoking. I don’t know that I answered any of the questions I’ve been asking myself, but I have stopped to evaluate them.
I'll be rereading this one, that's for sure. And I'll be doing more than just thinking about how to apply the concepts: I'll be doing.