“Success can become a catalyst for failure,” McKeown said. “We have to learn how to become successful at success, and that is a different skillset; it’s a different mindset.”
In his talk McKeown asked the audience, “Why is it that otherwise successful people or companies don’t break through to the next level?”
The audience guessed that it’s safer for them not to take risks or that successful people become complacent. McKeown argued that successful businesses often fail to reach the next level because of “the undisciplined pursuit of more.”
Instead of always trying to rapidly expand, business leaders need a new mindset. They need to become an “essentialist” and maintain a disciplined pursuit of less but better. Achieving this requires following three steps: explore, eliminate and execute.
“The idea is to become an essentialist and take on a different mindset - instead of being everything to everyone, ask, ‘What is the best use of me?’”
Just because you are committing to fewer tasks doesn’t mean you stop exploring. In fact, essentialists must explore more broadly than non-essentialists. If you’re committing to fewer things, you need to know exactly what are the right things for you to commit to. Commit less, explore more, and you’ll find yourself in much better position than before.
“We are novices at ‘no’...we only practiced it twice, once when we were three and once when we were 13--and both were not pretty.”
McKeown told the audience that we have to learn how to eliminate non-essential tasks from our lives, but we can’t do it harshly. We have to learn how to eliminate as gracefully as possible. Though everyone learned how to say “no” in preschool, many people grow up and find themselves only saying “yes” to others regardless of if they actually want to or not. To become our best, most efficient selves, McKeown says, “We have to learn how to eliminate unnecessary tasks from our lives without alienating or angering anyone.”
“You have to make execution as effortless as possible.”
Execution is the most important part of any task but is often given the least amount of thought. Many people still follow a high-school model of execution -- a last-ditch effort right before the due date. McKeown says that we need to instead follow Michael Phelps’ example by working consistently on tasks before their due date, so when the big day comes, you’ll be ready to execute at your highest level.
Photo Credit for Top Image: Rasmus E. Ingerslev
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