What you should know about Essentialism

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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

More?  Or Less?

More is a thing we’re all in pursuit of, even if we don’t know what “thing” it is.  Just have more of it.  More, more, more! It’s exhausting to pursue more.  It never ends.

Ask someone close to you what they’d like to have more of? You won’t get a short answer.  Think about all the more you could have in your life right now if you could just achieve it.  More:

  • house or houses
  • clothes
  • shoes
  • money, lots more money
  • car(s)
  • furniture
  • jewelry
  • STUFF

If immediately you believe you will be reading about giving away your life savings, living like a hermit, and wearing terrycloth clothing you’re wrong. Essentialism is a framework for choice.

Instead what about considering less? Doesn’t sound very sexy does it?

Okay, I agree and I like things that sound sexy and simple.  So, let me rephrase it the way Greg McKeown did in his book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.  Less, but better!

Less, but better!

Welcome to the essentialism lifestyle. The pursuit of “less, but better” in our lives. More focus, on fewer activities, for a return magnitudes higher than the simple pursuit of more for more.  It’s not about living in a 400 square foot apartment and giving away all we’ve ever owned.  Its about discipline in following and achieving our dreams by using the power of choice (elimination) and focus (dreams).

If I could recommend five books to anyone, this book is for sure on the list. I devoured it the first time I read it, so I’m going back for a second course to make sure I didn’t leave too much meat on the bone.

I associate the essentialist set of beliefs with another leader I follow a great deal online Gary Vaynerchuk.   Gary is obsessed in focusing his efforts on the two or three things he’s really great at.  These two or three “world-class” talents can provide him the greatest return (in magnitudes of order) compared to investing his time in the 95% of shit (his words) he sucks at.

Here’s another very strong correlation i found from author and successful blogger Ramit Sethi’s, I Will Teach You To Be Rich blog. The title of his recent post 2015 The Year of More.  After you’re done reading this piece, circle back and digest what Ramit is saying.

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Here are seven of my favorite points I distilled from the book:

  1. Essentialists ask this question every day, multiple times per day.  “Is this the very most important thing I could be doing with my time or resources RIGHT NOW?
  2. “Only once you give yourself permission to STOP trying to do it all, can you make your highest contribution toward what really matters
  3. Evaluate the “trivial many” vs. the “vital few” – in all aspect of our life and finances
  4. From Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter), “There are a thousand things we could be doing, buy only one or two are important”
  5. Nonessentialists = Yes to all.  Pleasers of anything and everything.
  6. Decision fatigue.  More choices = lower quality of choices.  I found this really interesting as I just read a Fast Company piece titled, “Always Wear The Same Suit”  about decision making and wardrobe choices for President Barack Obama.  He subscribes to this productivity hack.
  7. The invisible art form.  EDIT.   We should always be editing down our schedules, focuses, goals, and lifestyle.  Like a great producer taking a film from five hours to three.  Or a publisher taking a great book and simplifying it from 600 pages to a well distilled 250.  Edit, edit, edit!

I don’t want to ruin it for those who would like to consume all the book has to offer, but I do really suggest you think about how the power of choice and elimination could better impact your life.

ACTION ITEM:  I really want you to read this book.  If you don’t choose to read this book, slow down and read my seven favorite points.  They will substantially impact your life and the way you look at how your invest your time.

Earthquakes, Magnitude and Success

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Earthquakes, Magnitude and Success

 

Do you know how much more violent a 4.0 earthquake is compared to a 5.0 earthquake?  What about a 7.0?

It may seem, simply by looking at the numbers, that a 4.0 quake would produce a similar but slightly less devastating result than a 5.0 quake.  However, this isn’t anywhere near the truth.

As measured with a seismometer, an earthquake that registers 5.0 on the Richter Scale has a shaking amplitude 10 times that of an earthquake that registered 4.0, and thus corresponds to a release of energy 31.6 times that released by the lesser earthquake.

The number of earthquakes registering 2.5 – 5.4 is estimated to be 30,000 annually.  Conversely, the number of 5.5 – 6.0 quakes drops to just 500 per year.  That’s less than 2% of the lesser magnitude in scale.

Why is this important to my readers?

Because I see a powerful relationship between mediocrity and 30,000 quakes per year.  No one really ever feels the efforts of these actions (or earthquakes), because the magnitude of the efforts are weakly measurable at best.  Check out the image below to associate a visual to what I’m discussing.

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I ask myself, “How many daily activities would I label as: Not felt, Minor, Small, or even Moderate in magnitude?”

Even better follow up, what are my expectations for the outcomes of these activities?  I’m guessing they don’t match.  Maybe the image and corresponding labels below will help better paint the picture.  I love pictures and colors so this one really hits home.

magnitude

The reason I chose to write about this topic and how it collides with success is because I was listening to Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk.  He talks passionately about cashing in on your talents and passions by getting all-in on a topic and executing fearlessly.  His well-pronounced goal is to own the NY Jets.  Not a small goal, and definitely one where massive action and focused energy will need to be invested over a long period of time to achieve it.

The magnitude of our outcomes (and success) is closely related to the investment we’re willing to make.

If I’m not willing to invest a great deal of effort and energy into a project, business or idea, then my results WILL BE (100%) limited to the bottom end of the magnitude scale.  Many goals, multiplied by little effort, eat up massive amounts of your time and energy for minimal outcomes.

However, lets consider the highest magnitude.  Who are those individuals experiencing massive success?  They are labeled in the chart above as “Outstanding” or “Extraordinary.”  What do they have in common and how do they spend their time?  Also, notice there are substantially fewer of these super successful people in volume when compared to the mediocre many.  Probably less than 1% of the population.

I don’t think this can be understated.  Little goals, limited effort, and the minor impact outcome are related.  No one feels a minor quake, and 30,000+ happen every year!

ACTION ITEM: I’m personally doing an audit and taking a look at the aspects of my life in which I feel like I’m creating a very minimal impact.  The next choice I must make is to either eliminate the activity or refocus and rededicate my efforts.  Not all efforts deserve the same attention and energy.  I hope this audit will also serve you well.

Let Me Tell You Why I Suck

Who hasn’t seen the iconic film Tommy Boy?

If you have, you’ll remember Tommy’s line, “Let me tell you why I suck,” as he explains his inadequate sales approach to a waitress while attempting to order some chicken wings.

While I’m not one to jump on the negative bus and complain about why I’m not getting what I think I deserve, I think there is something extremely valuable about the exercise of understanding specifically what we are not.  I believe it is a life saver!!

I’m a HUGE Gary Vaynerchuk fan.  Gary says in his book: Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion we must understand how to cash in on our passions.  In one of Gary’s hundreds of YouTube videos he also preaches we learn to know what we ARE NOT.  He claims (and I believe him)to only be good at a few things and leaves the rest to the talents of others.

LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I’M NOT:

  1. Interviewer: I’ve learned I’m not a great interviewer.  It’s not that I can’t ask questions, or I can’t listen to people.  My challenge is I end up selling them on how great an opportunity I believe is in front of them and challenging them to take it.  I rarely interview a new candidate on a 1st interview.  I’ve yet to meet the person who is a great interviewer, or talent fox, but I’m not losing sleep over this one anymore.
  2. Dictator Leadership: I’m not a manager in a way of dictating activity or action.  I have zero interest in hovering over someone like a child to ensure they do something 50 times in a day.  Some managers get things done this way.  I will never be this guy.  If you are this guy, don’t fight it.  Embrace your style, just be fair doing it.
  3. The Details: BORING!  I don’t have a lot of interest in specifically how work gets done on the extremely minute detail to detail level.  I need to understand the project and see what I’m going to get in the end.  I’m a big thinker.  The more time I spend “in the weeds” of the conversation the less happy I am.
  4. Great at All Things: The competitive, Type A, side of me wants to get better at my weaknesses and work on them.  But, in reality the time invested in my weaknesses when measured against my absolute strengths leaves a tremendous amount of opportunity cost on the table.  If you like math think about it this way.  If I spend 5 hours on a task where I’m only 50% as good as a talented individual I’m only getting a 2.5 hr return on my investment.  NOT GOOD.  If however, I invested 5 hours of my time on a task or project where I’m 3x (300%) better than others, I’ve now conquered 15 hours of achievement.  PS – I’m likely 10x happier in the second scenario as well.

Understanding what you are not, may feel hurtful and negative at the time.  It’s not.  Be honest and it will open your eyes.  I encourage you to take a step back from yourself and your ego (most of us have a one) and “let it go” like Elsa says.  To me personally, it was a tremendously eye opening experience and amazingly uplifting.  It’s also allowed me to say NO to many more things and focus my time and efforts.

Time is the only resource we all have the same amount of.  Why then are some ridiculously successful while others struggle solving someone else’s problems?

Words of Wisdom - from Gary V (it says 2012 but does it really matter?)

Words of Wisdom – from Gary V

ACTION ITEM: Please take a step back and find out what you are not and stop involving yourself in these activities IMMEDIATELY.  You will be less “busy” and more focused on the activities where you can make a massive impact

 

 

 

Hustle 2.0

Hustle.  What the heck is that?

An insanely popular word in business today, but not yet as overused as some other buzzwords.

I believe one individual is highly responsible for transforming this word from the sports world to the business universe.  That person is Gary Vaynerchuk.  Gary is a mentor of mine and yet we’ve never met (with the exception of him signing my copy of “Thank You Economy” while at a convention in Las Vegas).  I think he’s a pretty righteous dude.

Are you ready to HUSTLE?

Are you ready to HUSTLE?

If you don’t know Gary I’ve included a link here to a recent interview with Inc: How to be Mr. Hustle and Have a Life, Too.

Gary is a pretty famous cat, and frequently references the word “hustle” in his conversations with other entrepreneurs, business coaches, media outlets and his own company VaynerMedia.  What I think is seriously overlooked though is the definition of the word hustle and how it’s helped Gary amass a thriving company and extremely successful career in social media.

Lets entertain a couple definitions or uses for the word hustle.

1. Zac displayed great hustle by diving on the floor numerous times in tonights basketball game.  This instance of hustle defines another level of hard work.  Hustle = perspiration or effort.

2. Zac got hustled in a game of golf (happens from time to time).  This instance of hustle refers to me getting swindled.  Not a great feeling or association

So what is this “hustle” Gary talks about and how is it different from pouring sweat and pool tables?

I believe Gary uniquely defines his hustle by the level of engagement he’s willing to invest in himself and his company and the context it’s delivered in.  His hustle most definitely includes massive effort, but massive effort isn’t what defines his success.  Gary’s definition of hustle is in the micro conversations and hundreds of engagements he’s willing to support (every one of them with a purpose nonetheless).

The 2014 definition of Hustle 2.0 involves 50% effort and another 50% strategic execution.  Notice I said strategic execution and not planning.  Planning is great, but there are no results.  Execution is the down and dirty result.  Execute frequently with exceptional context and you’re on the Gary V track to HUSTLE 2.0.

ACTION ITEM: Hustle isn’t limited to only your effort in a given event or scenario.  It also has to do with your level of engagement.  Combine both ingredients to get a Gary V level of hustle happening in your life