I’ve witnessed too many leaders who struggle with multiple priorities. They have 5 top priorities and don’t know where to put their best energy. The “Strategy of More” is blindly depleting people of their effectiveness in their lives.
The strategy of more shows up in all areas of our life. We see it at work and we see it in our personal life.
And the thing is, most of what we pursue is good stuff! In our personal lives we pursue more activities for the kids, more community involvement, more exercise, more money, more toys, and more rest. At work we pursue more responsibility, more projects, more clients, more resources, and more success. All of this is good, except when it isn’t.
I have recently come across a book that has radically impacted me. Essentialism – the disciplined pursuit of less by Greg McKeown. Essentialism isn’t a concept or a theory or a great book. It is a mindset and it is a game changer.
This time of year is all about New Year’s resolutions. The gyms may be packed this second week of the New Year, but let’s see how it looks in a 3 or 4 weeks. Everyone is interested in a new start and a fresh approach. The changing of the calendar is a great catalyst for this renewed focus. But it doesn’t always last.
The Essentialist isn’t about resolutions to say “no” more or getting your in-box clean or about mastering your calendar. As McKeown says,
“It is about pausing constantly to ask, “Am I investing in the right activities?”
We all have way more opportunities in the world than we will never have the time or resources to pursue. While many of these are good (and many of them are very good), the fact is that most are trivial, and very few are vital.
My guess is that you spend more energy and effort determining how to get more done than trying to figure out how to get the right things done.
“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will,” Greg McKeown.
The image below explains this well. On the left, the energy is divided into many different activities. The result is a millimeter of progress in several directions. On the right, the energy is more focused. This is a more satisfying experience where there is significant progress in the few things that matter most.
“Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many.” Greg McKeown
Over the next month I want to discuss the relentless pursuit of less…the discipline of exercising personal focus.
Every speaker or author comes from one of two positions. One is a subject matter expert, and the other is wanting to learn more on the subject they are pursuing. I come from the latter. I am eager to learn more about choosing the best option and living a life focused on the vital few things critical to success.
The Strategy of More is a lie. It is damaging, and it is likely robbing you of true success and fruitful relationships. No matter what your boss, board member, or spouse says, you can’t pursue more and be successful in all areas of your life.
So what are you to do when you have multiple priorities and find yourself trapped in the trivial pursuit of many? What do you do if everyone around you keeps asking you for more? You have no choice but to do more and more and more, right? Not so.
In my next post I will talk about 3 steps to de-clutter all of these good but nonessential priorities so you can focus on less and be more successful.