Productivity strategies do not work if we are focused on the wrong things. What we really need is an effective system for determining what is absolutely essential and the discipline to work on that thing. We need criteria that empower us to select our highest priority, and a strategy for eliminating everything else.
My guest, Greg McKeown has designed this system, and he has written about it in his award-winning bestseller, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. In addition to his writing and speaking, Greg is CEO of THIS, Inc., a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum, and a lecturer at Stanford University. In this interview he shares incidents in his own life that led him to develop this system, as well as the elements that make the system powerful.
In this episode, we talk about:
- How we forget our power to choose
- How our language shapes how we view the world
- How our priority became priorities and what that means for our lives
- Non-essentialism as a form of malware that has infected all areas of our lives
- How the smartest, most driven, capable, and curious people are the most vulnerable to non-essentialism
- Why we need to retire in our roles in order to gain perspective and get our lives back
- How a list of 6 can get us to our number one priority
- A game-changing way to use our journals as reflective, proactive tools
- The power of small wins
- The downside of email-to-email living
- Why technology makes a good servant but a poor master
- What it means to protect the asset in order to lead an essential life
- The unimportance of practically everything
- How discerning what is essential gives us the courage to push back on what is not
- Teaching young people how to focus on what is essential
- The three historical waves of non-essentialism or how we got here
- Why you want to be an essentialist before the busyness bubble bursts
- The trade off between our highest contribution versus what we got done today
Greg also talks about how he is making a deliberate choice to hold off on his second book in order to focus on his highest contribution. He explains how challenging it is to do that and how aware he is of the trade offs he is making along the way.
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