A Book Review: “Essentialism”


Recommendations from colleagues allowed the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less  by Greg McKeown to make it to the top of my reading and listening list.  I am on my second listen and first read and have continued to uncover new ideas that allow for the unfurling of the jumbled knot that is partially visible on the cover of the book.

Why is this book important to you?  Unless you are one of the rare few that are NOT living in a state of overwhelm, you will benefit from the principles outlined in the book.  Even more importantly, for those of you who have enjoyed some level of success, you’ll begin to understand why your success may not be the “happy point” you envisioned.  In fact, success may be the reason your efforts are beginning to deliver fewer results and you are working harder than you imagined you would at this point. McKeown describes this as the “paradox of success.”

To give you a clue to McKeown’s thinking and writing, he defines Essentialism as “less but better” and begins with a story of one executive’s journey into Essentialism.  From there you will be eager to begin exploring and practicing the way of the essentialist.  There are four parts to the book:

Essence:              Explores the core mind-set of an Essentialist

Explore:               Shows how to discern the trivial many from the vital few

Eliminate:            Demonstrates how to cut out the trivial many

Execute:               Explains how to make doing the vital few things almost effortless

Within each part are four to six chapters that develop the concept and the execution of it.  If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you will see many familiar themes such as choices and Saying No, my recent closet cleaning episode, thoughts on Creating Space, building habits and many more.

The organization of the book allows you to easily revisit these key areas when needed.  I recommend beginning with the audio version of the book if you have commute time or an extended drive in your future.  The concepts are easy to grasp in the verbal form.  Bonus:  the audio book is narrated by the author bringing even more depth and clarity to the concepts.  Follow up with a reading of the book or simply have it handy to refer to specific concepts outlined by chapter.

This book is a great tool for simplifying life, focusing your efforts and generating WINs (read the book to understand that!).  For a personal, get-it-done approach…hire a coach!

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