Book Review: Essentialism


The first book I completed this year is Greg McKeown’s essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Of the 750 plus reviews on Amazon, more than 70% of them are 5-star reviews, and for good reason.

This book is so good that I’ve bought several copies to give away as gifts to some friends, co-workers and family so they could all read it.

Essentialism by David MckeownThe general theme is understanding what happens when we put more energy into one thing, a single priority, instead of multiple things in our work and lives.

The book is full of strategies and tips that enable you to make better decisions to improve your life, personal and team leadership and your career. I suspect that I’ll re-read essentialism each year for a nice refresh.

Choices – The Core Mindset of the Essentialist

Choosing what to eliminate in our lives is the core of what McKeown calls being an essentialist and is what allows us to ”live by design, not be default.”

The irony of success is that the more you have, the more distracted and unsuccessful you become. The idea that you can have and do it all is a false reality that leads us to pursue more, which becomes our ”catalyst for our failure”.

We have too many choices to make each day, and McKeowns argues that we should focus on choosing to do only the few things that matter instead of trying to do everything. Saying No to most things allows you to perform well on the projects and ideas you’ve said yes to, and this is one of my favorite suggestions from the book and what I’ll immediately put into practice.

Executing as an Essentialist

My favorite ideas from Greg’s book are focused around gaining clarity by improving your ability to prioritize and distinguish what truly is essential.

Most important is our investments we should be making in ourselves and employing a 90% rule to quickly and easily eliminate non-essentials from our lives. Getting rid of 90% of the things we’re chasing is the first step to more clarity.

There are a lot of ideas and strategies from McKeown’s book that I’ve implemented in my [daily routines], and I’ve experienced nothing but positive results.

I encourage you to buy essentialism and refreshen your perspective on success and start accomplishing more in your life.

Some Quotes from essentialism

A choice is an action

Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?

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.

With repetition the routine is mastered and the activity becomes second nature.

We discover how even the many good opportunities we pursue are often far less valuable than the few truly great ones.

If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.

Curiously, people will admit to having a tendency to underestimate while simultaneously believing their current estimates are accurate.

Creating space to explore, think, and reflect should be kept to a minimum. Yet these very activities are the antidote.

The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves.

Boundaries are a little like the walls of a sandcastle. The second we let one fall over, the rest of them come crashing down. Essentialists, on the other hand, see boundaries as empowering.

If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no