By David Skidmore
May 10, 2022

Less but better

McKeown's book illustrates that minimal choices can make maximum impact through getting the right things done.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

By Greg McKeown

When you look at the cover of Essentialism, you see a picture of scribbles with an arrow pointed towards the word “essentialism” surrounded by scribbled circles. I like this picture because even when life moves away from being chaotically overwhelmed by messiness, the circles are rarely perfect mapping around our lives. That’s what the disciplined pursuit of “less but better” is about. Life is messy enough as is. What if we dedicate ourselves to achieving more by focusing simply on what is essential? As Greg McKeown says, “It isn’t about getting more things done; it’s about getting the right things done.”

When we talk about what is important to us, we often talk about our priorities. McKeown points out, “The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years.” Instead of focusing on everything that could matter, McKeown helps the reader narrow their focus to what matters most

Essentialism guides you through 4 stages:

  1. Essence: What is the core mindset of an essentialist?
  2. Explore: How can we discern the trivial many from the vital few?
  3. Eliminate: How can we cut out the trivial many?
  4. Execute: How can we make doing the vital few things almost effortless?

Throughout the book, McKeown details how to move to your highest point of contribution, which is the right thing for the right reason at the right time (this is the very essence of the book) that comes through a simple process of explore, eliminate, and execute. Essentialism might be translated as a minimalistic perspective on the intersection of life and business. However, out of the minimal choices comes maximum impact. 

One of the reasons this book is important for entrepreneurial leaders is that it challenges the many cobwebs we can find ourselves tangled in when we give our “yes” to too many things. It helps us move away from reactive thinking and into intentional living. As McKeown says, ““Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.” If you feel overwhelmed, and life feels a bit cluttered, this book is a catalyst for a spring cleaning of your mindset and choices. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it. How? We choose “less but better.”

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About David Skidmore

David Skidmore is a speaker, leadership trainer, and executive coach. He is the founder and CEO of LeaderGrowth, a leadership company designed to help individuals and organizations overcome challenges and experience transformation. David is the author of Unstuck: Turn Potential into Purpose which is available on Amazon, and his podcast LeaderGrowth with David Skidmore is available wherever you listen to podcasts. He is the co-organizer of TEDxOklahomaCity and has coached 17 speakers resulting
in over 150k views. David enjoys the Oklahoma City Thunder, summers at the lake, and exploring new cities.