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Must-Read Book List (And Key Takeaways)

Essentialism – written by Greg McKeown

Essentialism is a systematic discipline for discerning what is essential, then eliminating everything that is not. When we do so, we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter. Here are three key takeaways from McKeown’s book…

1. You Have a Choice.

McKeown stresses the importance of our ability to choose. From what to think to what to do and how to respond. We must be proactive instead of reactive in all situations. If you don’t learn to prioritize your life, someone, or something else, will.

Did you choose your meal for breakfast this morning? How about the job you are working at? You have the ability to choose the activities you spend time on or people you hang out with.

The way of the Essentialist means asking these types of questions and evaluating our everyday options. 

“Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage.”

2. “If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.”

It’s always important to explore and evaluate options before making a decision. This is one of the qualities of an Essentialist. When there are times that you have equally good choices, McKeown suggests eliminating anything that isn’t clearly impactful or beneficial for you. 

The concept of trade-offs is critical here. The author states that you shouldn’t focus on what you have to give up; it’s about what you want to go big on. 

For example, one of the richest and wisest persons on the planet, Nebraska-born Warren Buffett, can attribute 90% of his wealth to only 10 of his investments. Once the “Oracle of Omaha” knew which would make the biggest payoffs in the long run, he didn’t spend time, money, and energy on the other so-so ventures.

3. Essentialists eliminate the inessential to discover our highest point of contribution.

While Non-essentialists think “I have to,” “It’s all important,” and “How can I fit it all in?” Essentialists think “I choose to,” “Only a few things matter,” and “What are the trade-offs?”

In line with these differences, my third and last takeaway from this book is the most critical one.

McKeown introduces a concept called our highest point of contribution. Given that we all have limited resources like time, energy, and attention, how then can we fulfill our duty to discover and fulfill that? The only way is to eliminate the trivial many so we can focus on the vital few.

Who Not How – written by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy

This book shows you how to make the mindset shift necessary to open the door to explosive growth and unlimited possibility in your business and life. The following are four important takeaways…

1. Ask yourself “who can help me accomplish this?” instead of “how am I going to get this done?”

We all have goals and dreams. The most common obstacle to achieving these goals is either a lack of time or a sense of being overwhelmed by learning a new skill. Sure, you may be capable of learning, but does it take away from what you are truly good at and what you are passionate about? There is someone out there that is better at that task/skill than you because it is all they do, and they love it. You must ask yourself if you are the right person for the job. The author states that procrastination is a key indicator that you are not the right person for the job. If you find yourself constantly putting off a specific task, then it is time to delegate that task to someone else. 

2. Getting the right “Whos” in your life will free up your time.

If I can spend money paying someone to do the things that I either don’t have time to do or that I am not proficient at, then I am saving time. Time you can never get back. You can always make more money. Life is short. Spend it wisely. 

3. You will make more money when you find “Whos” to complete your “Hows.”

This idea is counterintuitive. This is a concept that you must commit to. The most common reason that people do not delegate tasks to others is that they want to save money. “I can cut my own grass for less than I can pay someone to do it” or “contractors are so expensive, I can do this addition on my own”-the list of excuses is endless. However, when you enlist other “Whos” to work towards your goals, you’ll be less distracted, and spend less time on nonproductive activities. The end result is you’ll have more to apply to what you’re good at and which makes you money. 

4. You will have a greater sense of purpose.

Once you are no longer allowing yourself to get bogged down doing stuff you’re not that good at, you can apply more time, energy, and resources to impact the world around you. You can envision new goals and make them happen. You will have more confidence and a bigger vision. You can pursue your dreams, not spin your wheels. Master asking, “Who Not How?” and you can 10X or 100X your results. “Who Not How” is the answer. 

If you add these books to your reading list, you can’t help but be smarter and more effective in each one of the many roles you play in life.