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5 ‘Essentialist’ Tenets from IHRSA 2016 Keynote Greg McKeown

In his Technogym-sponsored keynote address, consultant and best-selling author Greg McKeown will urge IHRSA 2016 attendees to focus on what’s most important—and to disregard all the rest.

McKeown spoke to Club Business International about his New York Times-bestselling book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, for the February cover story. We pulled out five of McKeown’s essentialist tenets that will set you on the path to determining which elements of your life are worth prioritizing and which aren’t.

1. Not everything is important.Many individuals hold themselves back because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important. An Essentialist has learned how to distinguish between what’s really important and everything else,” McKeown said. “We live in a world where very few things are exceptionally valuable. As author John C. Maxwell has written, ‘You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.’”

2. Undisciplined success can lead to failure. “I first became aware of the problem when I was working with executive teams in Silicon Valley. When they were focused on what was essential—it led to success. But success introduced so many new opportunities and options that it often destroyed the very focus that had led to their success,” he said. “While it may seem counterintuitive, success can become a catalyst for failure if it leads to what business consultant Jim Collins calls ‘the undisciplined pursuit of more.’ The antidote is the disciplined pursuit of less—but better."

3. “Having it all” is overrated.Why are people so irrational? The answer, I believe, is that we’re in the midst of what I call ‘The More Bubble,’” McKeown said. “The nature of bubbles is that some asset is overrated—absurdly overvalued—until the bubble bursts. Then we’re left scratching our heads, wondering why we were so irrationally exuberant in the first place. The asset that we’re overvaluing right now is the notion of doing it all, having it all, achieving it all."

4. Don’t mistake busyness for success. That success means being supermen and superwomen who can get it all done. Of course, we backdoor-brag about being busy—it’s code for being important and successful—but Essentialism challenges the idea that busyness is a reasonable, reliable, or rewarding measure of success.”

5. Sleep isn’t for the weak. “A sound diet, sensible exercise, and a good night’s sleep—they’re all essential. For instance, there’s a myth that very successful people sleep four hours a night, but the truth is that they rest well in order to perform at their peak,” McKeown said. “In K. Anders Ericsson’s famous study of violinists, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell as the ‘10,000 hour rule,’ Ericsson found that the best violinists spent more time practicing than the merely good ones; what’s less well known is that they averaged 8.6 hours of sleep over every 24-hour period.”

Read Greg McKeown’s full Q&A in the February issue of CBI.

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