Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Essentialism, the disciplined pursuit of less. If you ever want me to read something you write, just use a word that I haven’t seen (make one up if you have to) and you’ve got me. I need a shirt that says, “You had me at, What?” Hold on, if someone prints that shirt and wears it to breakfast I promise to pay. This particular “book” and article grabbed my attention on LinkedIN. The heading was perfect, “why we humblebrag about being busy?”. Yesterday morning I had this exact conversation with someone about this topic.
I quickly read the article and book, it is fantastic. I think you know, I don’t do book reviews, or say go buy this, but “go buy this book”. You will thank me later. You can see the LinkedIN article by clicking here: We have a problem—and the odd thing is we not only know about it, we’re celebrating it.
Why are typically rational people so irrational in their behavior? The answer, I believe, is that we’re in the midst of a bubble; one so vast that to be alive today in the developed world is to be affected, or infected, by it. It’s the bubble of bubbles: it not only mirrors the previous bubbles (whether of the Tulip, Silicon Valley or Real Estate variety), it undergirds them all. I call it “The More Bubble.”
Are we in a “More Bubble”? This article and book really got me thinking. You can also frame it into the question many people ask, “how much is enough?”. In this article Greg McKeown points to the wide adoption of smart phones, social media, and extreme commercialism as the root causes of the More Bubble. I don’t know what he is talking about! Of course I am kidding. I instantly had this picture of someone “buying a bunch of shit they saw on social media using their smart phone”.
I have been working very hard on getting rid of the “extra” in my life (it is hard). All the extra nonproductive work, distractions, and time sucks. We all have them, there are days I feel like I have more than anyone on the planet (don’t judge me, you have thought the same thing at least once this week). I took a quick audit of his specific actionable ideas: Schedule a Personal Quarterly Offsite, Rest Well to Succeed, Add Expiration Dates on New Activities, Say No to a Good Opportunity Every Week.
I scored pretty well on this list. I’m a planner (at least at a high level, I do struggle with details, but at 50,000 feet I always know the 2-3 most important goals), my sleep patterns vary (sure there are times I don’t sleep) but I am always watching it, I am getting better at moving on from new experiences (can you say surfing – it is clearly the new activity) but I really struggle saying “no”. Saying no to a good opportunity each week – honestly – I am not sure I say no to one bad opportunity each week. My big take away from the book and article is to tie these four actions together, “have clear goals, get plenty of sleep, move on from new activities when I start a new one, and say no more often”. Thank You, Greg! We haven’t met yet, but in my mind we are on a first name basis.