Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less



  • “The pursuit of success can be a catalyst for failure” – success can distract us from focusing on the essential things that produce success in the first place (p.13)
  • “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come” – Victor Hugo (p.25)
  • Ignoring the reality of trade-offs is a terrible strategy for organizations (p.51)
  • The faster and busier things get, the more we need to build thinking time into our schedule. And the noisier things get, the more we need to build quiet reflection spaces in which we can truly focus (p.68)
  • One practice I’ve found useful is simply to read something from classic literature for the first twenty minutes of the day (p.70)
  • “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge” – Albert Einstein on how play broadens the range of options available to us (p. 86)
  • “If the answer isn’t a definite yest, then it should be a no.”
  • Simple, systematic process to apply selective criteria to opportunities:
    1. Write down he opportunity
    2. Write down a list of three “minimum criteria” the options would need to “pass” in order to be considered.
    3. Write down a list of three ideal or “extreme criteria” the options would need to “pass” in order to be considered.
    4. If the opportunity doesn’t pass your first set of criteria or two of the three extreme criteria, the answer should be no
  • When we are unclear about our real purpose in life – in other words, when we don’t have a clear sense of our goals, our aspirations, and our values – we make up our own social games. We waste time and energies on trying to look good in comparison to other people
  • An essential intent is both inspirational and concrete, both meaningful and measurable. Done right, an essential intent is one decision that settles one thousand later decisions.
  • Becoming an Essentialist means making cutting, condensing, and correcting a natural par of our daily routine – making editing a natural cadence in our lives
  • “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe” – Attributed to Abraham Lincoln
  • One way to protect against this is simply to add a 50% buffer to the amount of time we estimate it will take to complete a task or project
  • What is the slowest hiker in your job or your life? What is the obstacle that is keeping you back from achieving what really matters to you? By systematically identifying and removing this “constraint” you’ll be able to significantly reduce the friction keeping you from executing what is essential
  • “My experience has taught me this about how people and organizations improve: the best place to look is for small changes we could make in the things we do often. There is power in steadiness and repetition.” – Henry B Eyring, Stanford professor

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s