Book of the day - Essentialism


I’m a big fan of the minimalism, essentialism, FIRE topic. One thing I’m not a fan of is books that start off with 50 pages describing what the remaining part of the book is going to cover. Just get into it already. It’s strange that a book about “essentialism” starts by writing so many pages and words about the non-essential. Now that my pet peeve is out of the way.

The book is great. Once he gets into it, the topic is perfect. The subjects Greg McKeown uses as examples include Google’s nap stations and busy nerds that are busy because in reality they lack the ability to analyze what’s necessary in their project. It feels like the book was written for me. I’m a tech entrepreneur with a bad history of saying “Yes” to too much uselessness. Unfortunately I’ve built a habit of letting others manage my day and It’s time to fight back. The book covers this topic perfectly and provides supporting material to read further, which I’ll definitely be doing.

My issue with being busy, is based on a fear of rejection. When I tell someone I can’t attend his or her meeting, deep down I worry I’m giving that person a reason to not like me. They know I would be a great benefit to have in the meeting, but when I say no to them, I’m making them work more. If someone stopped attending your meetings, I think there would be a sense of not liking that person for no longer attending your meeting. That’s my mindset. Greg, says in Essentialism those people you say no to, will ultimately respect you more. They might be disappointed at you in the moment, but longer term they will respect your more. Yes, that means when I tell someone, “no”, they will change their opinion of me permanently. That’s difficult to accept. I’m gaining respect, but giving up like-ability. I’ll have to balance that in my mind as I grow as a person.

On the flip side, I’ve reached a point in my life of borderline burnout. I’m very aware of how hard I’ve worked and the payout I received when I gave every second of my life to a business. The payoff was short lived. Almost like a heroin high that didn’t last. The only way to keep the high was to keep working at such a high and rapid rate that I realized I was missing other parts of my life, such as running, cycling, and my long term life goals. It wasn’t even so much of a poor “work life balance” as not understanding where my goals and future growth were going to come from. I’m happy to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors that are inline with my personal growth goals, but when you give so much of yourself in areas that aren’t inline with where you want your life to be going, but where another person or company wants to go, you have to pull the chord and bail out.

Towards the end of Essentialism it starts to mix between the focus on a single item (essentialism) and other concepts, such as building on small wins, which is a concept I’m pretty sure Seth Godin covers. Essentialism spends a reasonable amount of time on the topic of the snowball effect of small wins. Think Dave Ramsey and the debt payoff method, where you start with your smallest debt, once paid off, take that now free monthly payment amount and apply it to your next debt loan until that one is paid off, then on to the next one. Ultimately making the snowball bigger and bigger, gaining momentum along the way. Essentialism recommends that same strategy, but on your priority tasks. Focus on one task and only one task however small it may be. Maybe it’s your making your bed in the morning - ala another book titled, “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World”.

By the end of the book I felt a strong mix of more than just essentialism being blended into the book, which to me goes against the books utmost goal, focus on the essential. Then again, there’s another book that’s all about that, “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller”. Man, I read too many books that are closely related and find all of the authors are saying the same exact thing, but at a different Amazon price point.

Buy Essentialism on Amazon