Taking place and time for stepping back is important. I used to do that as often as I can with my family, my friends and myself. One thing I like to do is read a book. Not an e-book - a real book made in paper I can touch and smell. Not technical - neither programming nor architecturing IT solutions. That’s one of the thing I have found to make me more efficient in my day to day job then as IT professional.

Today I would like to highlight and share one of my readings: Essentialism, The Discipline Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.

Book cover of “Essentialism, The Discipline Pursuit of Less”.

This reference was given to me while flying to Toronto for business meetings by reading enRoute - May 2017. There is 2 pages (p. 40-41) about Alex Strohl, “A photographer opens his bag” and he mentioned he just finished this book. He is a photographer and a traveler - as hobbies I love both, why not give it a try for my own library of inspiration!

less for better

This book is all about how we could do less but better, with less stress, more happiness and with more valuable contribution. You will get great stories and quotations coming from influencers, thinkers, artists, entrepreneurs, athletes, movie maker, politicians, coaches, etc. from different continents all around the world.

Thinks 💭

  • Nonessentialist - All things to all people 👎
    • I have to
    • It’s all important
    • How can I fit it all in?
  • Essentialist - Less but better 👍
    • I choose to
    • Only few things really matter
    • What are the trade-offs?

Does 👌

  • Nonessentialist - The undisciplined pursuit of more 👎
    • Reacts to what’s most pressing
    • Says “yes” to people without really thinking
    • Tries to force execution at the last moment
  • Essentialist - The disciplined pursuit of less 👍
    • Pauses to discern what really matters
    • Says “no” to everything except the essential
    • Removes obstacles to make execution easy

Gets 🙌

  • Nonessentialist - Lives a life that does not satisfy 👎
    • Takes on too much and work suffers
    • Feels out of control
    • Is unsure of whether the right things got done
    • Feels overwhelmed and exhausted
  • Essentialist - Lives a life what really matters 👍
    • Chooses carefully in order to do great work
    • Feels in control
    • Gets the right things done
    • Experiences joy in the journey

This book contains 4 main parts:

Essence 🌱 - what is the core mind-set of an Essentialist?

  • Choose - the invincible power of choice
    • A choice is not a thing. Our options may be things, but a choice is an action.
  • Discern - the unimportance of practically everything
    • Think about the Pareto Principle (80/20).
  • Trade-off - which problem do I want?
    • It involves two things (or more) we want. But we obviously cannot do it all (well). Priorities have to be defined.

Explore ⛵ - how can we discern the trivial many from the vital few?

  • Escape - the perks of being unavailable
    • We need space to escape in order to discern the essential few from the trivial many. Take place to design, to concentrate, to read.
  • Look - see what really matters
    • Know the big picture, Filter for the fascinating, Get out into the field, Keep your eyes peeled for abnormal or unusual details, Clarify the question.
  • Play - embrace the wisdom of you inner child
    • Play expands our minds in ways that allow us to explore, germinate new ideas, absorb stress, increase executive function of the brain capabilities.
  • Sleep - protect the asset
    • Sleep is a priority and is for high performers. It breeds creativity and enables highest levels of mental contribution.
  • Select - the power of extreme criteria
    • Selective, explicit and also right.

Eliminate 🚫 - how can we cut out the trivial many?

  • Clarify - one decision that makes a thousand
    • From “pretty clear” to “really clear”.
  • Dare - the power of a graceful “no”
    • Separate the decision from the relationship, saying “no” gracefully doesn’t have to mean using the word “no”. Make your peace with the fact saying “no” often requires trading popularity for respect. Remember that a clear “no” can be more graceful than a vague or noncommittal “yes”.
  • Uncommit - win big by cutting your losses
    • Be brave and smart with the Sunk-cost bias. Sunk-cost bias is the tendency to continue to invest time, money or energy into something we know is a losing proposition simply because we have already incurred, or sunk, a cost that cannot be recouped.
  • Edit - The invisible art
    • The Latin root of the world decision - cis or cid - literally means “to cut” or “to kill”. Editing involves cut out options, condense, correct, edit less.
  • Limit - The freedom of setting boundaries
    • See boundaries as liberating. Sets rules in advance that eliminate the need for the direct “no”.

Execute 🏃 - how can we make doing the vital few things almost effortless?

  • Buffer - the unfair advantage
    • Build in a buffer for unexpected events. Practice extreme and early preparation.
  • Subtract - bring forth more by removing obstacles
    • To attain knowledge add things every day. To attain wisdom subtract things every day - Lao-tzu.
  • Progress - the power of small wins
    • Start small and gets big results. Celebrate small acts of progress.
  • Flow - the genius of routine
    • Making it look easy. The power of the right routine. Overhaul your triggers. Do the most difficult thing first. Mix up your routines and tackle them one by one.
  • Focus - what’s important now?
    • Mind should be focused on the present (not the past nor the future). Tune in to what is important right now. And most important: Enjoy the moment!
  • Be - the Essentialist life
    • More clarity. More control. More joy in the journey.

To conclude, this book is very inspiring both for work and personal life. It provides great tools, quotations and examples to get inspiration of. Like the author mentioned at the end, “most of us have a little Essentialist and a little of Nonessentialist in us, but question is, which are you at the core?”. But like many things in our life, it’s something we need to try, work hard on, learn, fail fast, have an open mind, make compromise and have a desire for continuous learning.