Essentialism by Greg McKeown is by far the most pragmatically useful yet meaningfully inspirational book I have read in a long long time. I found it in the Business section of the bookstore, but what I think Essentialism really is is a philosophy book for the modern day. It’s a book that for me, really rounds out a message that I got from reading Thrive a couple months ago. They are both books that deal with the subject of utilizing mindfulness in life and business, and now having read both, these two works of Essentialism and Thrive resonates with me much more together than they perhaps otherwise would separately.
When I say I see Essentialism as a philosophy book, I mean that this (perhaps coined) term “essentialism” is literally the philosophy being taught. It’s like Zen, customized for the lives of 21st century professionals, with many many anecdotes and case studies, research citings and teachings.
As a philosophy, Essentialism clicked with me in the sense that I generally do gravitate towards minimalism and simplicity in terms of how I like to approach life. For me, what this book articulated that I’ve been having trouble realizing for myself, is that the process of cutting down is essentially a process of disciplined prioritization. With the right priorities, the long term returns on living with essentialism in mind is not just being able to cut clutter, it is ultimately about being able to be exponentially more productive than having your efforts scattered. Only spoiler alert about something I especially loved: there’s a recurring analogy in this book that all your combined efforts are going to move you a million millimeters; you can either choose to move one millimeter in a million directions, or move a thousand full meters in one most essential direction.
There are so many potential applications to the practices taught in this book. As event professionals, our job is to create meaningful gatherings of people. Usually, many people. Being as such, it is so easy to fall into the downward spiral of trying to please everybody and actually pleasing nobody. We need to think about the people at the venues, the vendors and suppliers, the clients, the sponsors, the attendees, our own staff, how to coordinate all the logistics, how to give the gathering purpose, the list goes on and on. Essentialism is perhaps more a journey than an end in the work of event management, but I can see so clearly that it is an absolutely critical mindset to have to do our job effectively.
See you at the next exploration!