McKeown’s Essentialism

It’s not about getting more stuff done. It’s about getting more of the right things done. It’s not about efficiently doing what is on the to-do list. It’s realizing that the most important thing isn’t even on the to-do list. That’s the insight. —Greg McKeown on the Tim Ferriss podcast talking about his book Essentialism.

Yesterday I was listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast where he was interviewing Greg McKeown on his book Essentialism.  Essentialism, in my limited knowledge, mirrors the idea of minimalism.

Essentialism is really about distilling down that which is truly important.  McKeown asks us to think about our daily actions, the decision that we make in business and in life, and contemplate if these decisions are in-line with our values and goals?  McKeown suggests that when confronted with an offer or decision, we should ask ourselves, “Is this the most important thing I can be doing with my time and resources?” If you don’t come back with a resounding “Yes” then you should probably pass on that opportunity.  McKeown is really laying out this framework for decluttering our work life.

There are many other quotable moments in this podcast.  Such as McKeown’s thoughts about doing the essential things versus doing good things, and realizing there is not enough time to do both.  McKeown also hypothesizes that we should look at our life not from the scope of birth to death, but from the perspective of our ancestors to future generations.  How are the decisions that you make today going to help promote the world you want to see tomorrow? And how do these decisions honor those who made it possible for you to be here today?

If this discussion seems interesting to you, head over to Tim Ferris’s page and take a listen.  The first part of the interview is a pointed discussion between Ferris and McKeown on how Ferris can apply McKeown’s principles to his own life.  At times you almost feel like you are sitting in on a therapy session.  But what you get out of this discussion is a solid example of how McKeown applies the concept of essentialism to real life.  In the second part of the interview, the two of them talk about some of the other foundational ideas behind essentialism, and this is where the podcast gets really interesting.

If you listen to the podcast, let me know what you think.  I would be interested in hearing about your reactions.

Thanks for reading.

 

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