Focus on the "Vital few" while discerning the "Trivial Many"
"If everything is important, then nothing is"
- Patrick Lencioni.
Have you come across people who believe everything matters and it all has to be done right now?
I have come across a lot of people like that.
I have been a generalist all my life with focus on building 'T' Skills.
I have, for long, taken a lot on my plate to broaden my horizon. Many a times failing miserably to deliver the best outcome. Succeeding, a few times.
But I'm not the same anymore. I have learnt from my mistakes.
I changed my approach. And I can see the difference.
Today, I think like a Generalist but I execute like a Specialist.
I will explain how.
Before that, let me share the background. I came across a book I recommend highly - Essentialism by Greg Mckeown.
Essentialism is the discipline of continuously defining where we can create the most value, then finding ways to execute most effortlessly. Essentialism is fundamentally about designing and taking control of your life. The same amount of energy, when directed purposefully, can bring you much closer to your goal and make higher contribution. It is a way of life.
Essentialism is not about doing more things but about doing everything that is important.
Why is this important? It is because Non-essentialism is everywhere. Too many choices, too many demands, too many pressures, and too many aspirations.
It would be injustice to cover this book in one blog so I will cover this book in parts.
The book helps us understand the core mindset of an Essentialist.
The book has 4 parts. Part 1 of the books has 3 chapters: - Choose: The Invincible Power of Choice - Discern: The Unimportance of Practically Everything - Trade-Off: Which Problem Do I Want? The Invincible Power of Choice: Options are potential actions. If we don't exercise our power of choice someone else will. Choices are hard and the society makes it harder to say No. We may not have control over options we have, but we have the control to prioritise these options. The Unimportance of Practically Everything: This has helped me a lot. It is underrated. More efforts doesn't result in higher returns. But certain efforts surely yield higher returns than others. A non-essentialist thinks everything is essential while an essentialist thinks practically everything is non-essential. An essentialist however knows the difference and the technique to differentiate between what is truly important and everything else. Which Problem Do I want?: Trade offs are imminent. It is a reality. Trade offs present significant opportunities. Essentialists ask themselves: Which Problem Do I want to solve?
I'd love to talk about the other parts of this book but let me tell you what change I brought about in my professional life. (I'm yet to implement this in my personal life. Hopefully, this year!)
From here, I learnt the need to focus on the "Vital Few" and ignore the "Trivial Many".
I have always spent more time on observing, thinking and exploring which made this concept come naturally to me in some ways.
Essentialists are powerful observers and listeners. I look for what can't be seen in the first go - any leads, data, cues and listen to what can't be heard initially - intent, message, emotions.
I don't spend time on stuff that is unimportant - Politics, useless information, undue pressures, fakery etc.
I have always tried to speak less, convey more.
Thinking has helped me achieve that.
Listening has helped my thinking.
"We don't rise to the level of our speaking.
We fall to the level of our listening."
To be continued......