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Book review: Are You An Essentialist?

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

Essentialism - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown is a book that asks you to question the way you run your life.

This is a business book but the principles can easily be applied to other areas of life.

As a marketing consultant I truly believe that less is more when it comes to a marketing campaign.

It is tempting to add too many activities to the mix then wonder why none of them deliver the result we'd hoped for.

We have to think really hard about what will deliver the best results and stick to just those things.

McKeown puts it this way " Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it's about how to get the right things done' and also ' making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at your highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential'

Essentialism - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

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What does Essentialism cover?

This book is structured into 4 sections each covering a different area and building to the whole theory of Essentialism.

Essence - What is the core mind-set of an Essentialist?

Explore - How can we discern the trivial from the vital few?

Eliminate - How can we cut out the trivial many?

Execute - How can we make doing vital things almost effortless?

You are presented with the ways that an essentialist lives v.s a non essentialist at each turn.

There are lots of examples given of business owners and companies who have adopted what is essentially a minimalist way of doing things.

Focusing on less but doing an amazing job of what they do deliver. Pixar, Apple, TED to name a few.

Famous sports people and their coaches also get a few mentions for the rigour of their routines and focus on only the essential. Michael Phelps and Bob Bowman for example.

The whole focus of Essentialism is looking for ways to cut down the noise. Get away from the daily madness, which I've heard termed 'the whirlwind' in other business books* and maintain focus.

*The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals - Sean Covey

How I felt about this book

As I read I was reminded of The Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus as I've long been influenced by them, and indeed completed several rounds of their 'mins game' where you try to reduce your possessions.

Their most quoted line is ' the best things in life aren't things' which I heartily agree with.

But then, I am also aware of the privilege I hold as a person who has lived all of their life in a safe country where I have the luxury of acquiring and frivolously giving away my possessions in the first place. So that side has to be kept in mind too.

This book is like the business version of minimalism. If you take on less in the first place you have less to give up. You'll have more chance of succeeding at the things you do take on and make more of a contribution to your career area.

I do try to make considered choices about what I work on. It is one of the things that most appeals to me about self employment. I have much more ability to choose the work I do than when I have worked in corporations.

My feeling is that some of the tips in this book may be harder to achieve if you were not at a senior level in a business though. I have myself experienced working for people who seemed to delight in treating me as the human equivalent of Buckaroo

This book is a useful read that will remind you to try harder to take on less.

It suggests techniques and strategies for avoiding ending up burdened by others priorities. I think for perfectionists it also acts as a good reminder that done is better than perfect often.

I hope this has been a useful review, thanks for reading!


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About Me

Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Agency based in SE London. Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing.

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