Essentialism and Trade-offs

I’m reading the book Essentialism now and it’s forcing me to answer a very difficult question. Likewise, I am asking you.

What few things are most important for you to do?


It’s incredibly important for you to determine the answer to this question.

If you don’t decide what is most important, your time will be eaten away by the nonessential stuff of life. You will get lost in what Stephen R. Covey calls the thick of thin things.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

And that’s exactly my point.

It’s so easy to say yes. It’s easy to make people happy. It’s easy to commit and accept more responsibility.

It’s easy to get everything done.

And by getting everything done, I mean doing it poorly.

Instead, you must say no more. Practice it a few times wherever you are. If you are in a quiet workplace, I want you to imagine saying it louder and louder in your mind.

… no… No… NO!!!

The point is for you to reserve your resources (time, money, attention, etc) for the few things you can do very well. Only you can fulfill your God-given shape!

It’s all trade-offs. By saying yes to your passions, you will disappoint others and even miss out on pretty good stuff.

However, much worse is this — by saying yes to every opportunity from everyone else, you say no to your dreams and passions.

Trade-offs are absolute jerks when misused. When used well, however, they leverage deep fulfillment and achievement. Essentialism is being a good steward with your available resources.

It’s about being intentional.

Essentialism is being very selective about your commitments and activities so you can make progress on your lifelong goals.

This will mean saying “No” to plenty of good opportunities.

… so you can say “YES!” to the great ones. (Now that’s a good trade-off!)

Essentialism is certainly not going to be easy. But if you don’t practice it, your time — which is far more valuable than money, by the way — will be sucked into the leadership vacuum.

Self-leadership, that is.

Name one essential thing you did NOT do today…