Are You Focusing on What’s Essential?


That’s a very career-limiting sort of behavior isn’t it – just say no to the boss. When people even hear that for a moment – If I suggested, “hey, do you say no to the CEO?” They often just laugh at that. It’s laughable. That’s the thing right there that shows you what a monopoly view, saying yes without thinking has become. Now I might just make it a side point to say that I didn’t write a book called “No-ism,” I wrote a book called, “Essentialism.” So the argument is not to start saying no to any willy-nilly and everyone, bosses and bosses’ bosses and clients – it’s not that. The best essentialists don’t use the word no very much at all, they have a whole repertoire for being able to negotiate the non-essentials. They’re not just yes people. Which is just as Ludacris as the idea of saying no all the time and yet often this is what we fall into. Our bosses don’t need yes people, they need people who are going to try to make sure they spend their time doing the most valuable things. The things that will actually bring us to the next level of contribution – this is what is really needed.

Here we have to start with a simple premise, which is that we’ve been conned. Yes, for many, many years we have been pedaled a bill of goods, sold it and what we’ve been sold is this idea that if you can fit it all in you can have it all in your life. How often have you seen that sort of message in magazines, television, movies, all of this? The problem with it, the only problem with it is that it’s not true. What does it really produce? You try to fit it all in, that’s what it produces. You feel overworked and under utilized, you’re stretched too far at work and at home, your email inbox is longer at the end of the day than it is at the beginning, you’re busy, but not productive – this is what it produces. So what I’m sharing is counter-cultural. It’s not what we do, but it’s obviously the only way forward because you basically have two options. You can either try to do everything and do it averagely well or worse or you can do a few things superbly well. I’m not arguing less is more, I’m arguing: less, but better will get you better results.

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