If you do nothing else before the end of the year, read the book that inspired this post
“Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not as an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?” ~ Greg McKeown
Forgive me if the above title feels a bit like a directive, but the topic I’m addressing today is that important.
Let me explain.
For years I’ve been a bit like the proverbial shoemaker whose kids have no clothes. Except that I’ve been a strategic planning facilitator who has no strategic plan for his business.
OK, I overstate slightly.
The truth is that I’ve done all the foundation work (and revisited it every fall for the past several years). I have a mission statement, a set of values, a vision, and even a story of what it looks like when I achieve the success I am pursuing.
But despite this clarity, something has always been lacking in my business efforts…
- I’ve struggled to decide where to focus my limited attention, fueled by my desire to serve, my need for variety, and my curiosity about every idea that crosses my path.
- I’ve found myself delivering work that could be better delivered by others, because I can’t say no to a new challenge, I believe in my ability to figure things out, and I struggle to stop doing things I enjoy even if others can do them better.
- I’ve felt pulled in too many directions and stretched too thin, the result of constantly saying yes, of underestimating how long things will take to complete, and of being blessed with more opportunities than I possibly can handle.
No doubt you are wondering why I am sharing all of this with you and why you should care.
Because chances are much of what I am saying sounds familiar. If you don’t personally face these types of challenges, chances are you know someone who does.
And if that’s true for you, then I have some great news for you…
I’ve discovered a way that you can increase your impact by doing less.
It’s all outlined in the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. And if you’re serious about increasing your impact in 2016 you NEED to read this book before the end of this year.
In fact, as the title of this post suggests, I think this is the single most important action you can take before the end of the year to change your outcomes in 2016 (assuming, of course, that you actually take action on what you read).
Just in case you’re not convinced, here’s an example of a process McKeown shares in the book that has literally changed my life and continues to do so.
It’s called The 90 Percent Rule and here’s how McKeown explains it in the book:
As you evaluate an option, think about the single most important criterion for that decision, and then simply give each option a score between 0 and 100. If you rate it lower than 90 percent, then automatically change the rating to 0 and simply reject it. This way you avoid getting caught up in indecision, or worse, getting stuck with the 60s or 70s. Think about how you’d feel if you scored 65 on some test. Why would you deliberately choose to feel that way about an important choice in your life?
Applying The 90 Percent Rule is easy:
- Make a list of all the things that you are currently doing (or planning to do).
- Give each item a score between 0 and 100.
- Remove everything that you rated as less than 90 percent from the list.
- Focus your efforts on the remaining things on the list.
Don’t let me mislead you. This is NOT an easy exercise to do, especially for those things that fall close to the 90 percent line.
But when I learned this exercise* (and applied it after reading the book) I gained a great deal of clarity about where I should be focusing my efforts. That led me to immediately jettison a number of things that have long been part of my business, to redefine what I would say yes to in the future, and to adjust the way things are done to leverage my real talents to increase the contribution I deliver to my clients.
The bottom line is that my business today is much different than it was before I read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, and it will continue to evolve using the insights the book reveals.
And that’s why I suggest that “if you do nothing else before the end of the year, read the book that inspired me to write this post.” I believe that learning and applying the lessons the author shares will increase your personal impact and help you lead your credit union (or whatever business you are in) to new levels of success in 2016.
Here’s to your success in refocusing your efforts!!
*I first learned about this exercise listening to a Stu McLaren keynote where he explained how this process led him to decide to sell his business. You can read that powerful story here.