Are you failing because of an undisciplined pursuit of more?

I’m re-reading Greg McKeown’s paradigm-altering book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

In it he argues for less but better in our lives, borrowing a German phrase coined by minimalist designer Dieter Rams:

Weniger, aber besser

McKeown argues not for minimalism but for reducing our activities to the essential few that bring the greatest meaning and result to us.

Every now and then you read a book that feels anticipatory . . . you’re already heading down a certain path and the book not only meets you on that path, the author anticipates fully where that path could lead, were you to travel it more profoundly. 

I’ve only done this once before that I can recall. Read a book and then immediately start over again to take in its full impact.

In this case I’m listening to the audio version, read by McKeown himself. His measured cadence lends power to his vision.

What I have to share with you today struck me mightily the second time around. McKeown writes:

Jim Collins in How The Mighty Fall discovered highly successful companies often fail because of an undisciplined pursuit of more.

(The emphasis is mine.)

I think of my life and the times I’m attempting too much, striving in seven directions, going forward in none. 

This note struck a chord because it’s as true for individuals as it is for companies.

We crash and burn because of the undisciplined pursuit of more. We flail because we refuse to pursue less. And yet it is in pursuing fewer objectives that we gain greater ground quicker.

If you feel overwhelmed, if you feel pulled in too many directions . . . slow down . . . listen to your real needs . . . ask your mighty inner guru what are the essentials in your life . . . what can be tossed to make life richer? . . . Listen to the answers that come burbling up  . . . That self of yours knows . . . .

Say no to the inessential so you can say yes deeply to the things that really matter.

For you 

Evan Griffith
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