Priorities …

Focus“Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.”

Greg McKeown in Essentialism:  The Disciplined Pursuit of Less


Many people talk about saying “No” to their bosses, when “Yes” would mean diluting their contribution, but few take the time to figure out how to do this without causing damage to their career.   I know that when I have suggested to others that they should protect their time and energy by not accepting any and all “offers”, that the responses give new meaning to the concept of the “deer in the headlights” look.

I love the idea of “our highest point of contribution” being the focus, not just cutting the clutter or simplifying my schedule.  I can throw things away all day long without actually doing what really matters.  The real key here, as Greg emphasizes, is to decide your real focus and relentlessly make decisions about what you do based on that.

Focus on the essential …

Greg McKeown has done the work to figure out how to appropriately and professionally become a person who can say “No” without guilt and without repercussions.  It all starts with figuring out what is truly most important and then creating a mindset that this most important thing is the only consideration when a new opportunity comes along.

Let Greg put a fine point on this in his own words:

“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.  Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities.”  (Essentialism, p. 16)

Maybe progress is not always positive.  The words we use are important and this is a good example of why.

Check out the short video below for an overview of living the Essentialism life from the source:

More tomorrow from this very useful new resource.

Thinking I might just reprioritize and singularize my priorities in the Heartland ….



Greg McKeown writes, teaches, and speaks around the world on the importance of living and leading as an Essentialist. He has spoken at companies including Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn,, Symantec, and Twitter and is among the most popular bloggers for the Harvard Business Review and LinkedIn Influencer’s group. He co-created the course, Designing Life, Essentially  at Stanford University, was a collaborator of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Multipliers and serves as a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum. He holds an MBA from Stanford University.


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  1. Pingback: Asking the “Essential” Questions … | THE STRATEGIC LEARNER

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