TICM 158 | Greg Mckeown | How Essentialism Can Impact Your Life and Business

Originally from London, England, Greg McKeown is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” and the founder of McKeown, Inc, a company with a mission to teach Essentialism to millions of people around the world. Their clients include Adobe, Apple, Airbnb, Cisco, Google, Facebook, Pixar, Salesforce.com, Symantec, Twitter, VMware and Yahoo!.

McKeown is an accomplished public speaker and has spoken to hundreds of audiences around the world including in Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, England, Holland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Africa and the United States.

Highlights include speaking at SXSW, interviewing Al Gore at the Annual Conference of the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland and receiving a personal invitation from Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, to speak to his Annual Innovation Conference.

His writing has appeared or been covered by Fast Company, Fortune, HuffPost, Politico, and Inc. Magazine and Harvard Business Review. He has also been interviewed on numerous television and radio shows including NPR and NBC.


[02:14] The Pursuit of Less

Greg is very humbled by people who receive and live his message. It’s normal for people to be on the pursuit of finding more which is the challenge. We need to be on the pursuit of less. Looking for more is an undisciplined pursuit. Looking for less is more disciplined. It’s becoming more relevant today to be an essentialist.

With all the information and social media platforms out there, it’s creating more noise for us. What we need is more space. There’s isn’t space in our lives now with everything to keep us busy and escape. People in general are in a constant state of being overworked and underutilized. Essentialism is the way out of this.


[06:04] Focus in Essentialism

Greg had a personal and professional insight lead him to essentialism. He was working with Silicon Valley companies and noticed a predictable pattern. In the early days a company would be focused on the essential things which would bring success. If the company wasn’t careful they would get pulled into non-essential, but good, items. This undermined their focus on essential things. Success can be a catalyst for failure.

You can’t sacrifice your relationships and health. Saying yes all the time can lead to focusing on the non-essentials in our life. We’re rewarded for doing things and we like that. The things that lead to success are not the things that will help us be successful at success. That becomes a different challenge.

Greg learned that there are two kinds of non-essentialism. One is if where you’re pulled in many directions. You have to much from too many people. Second is where you become too narrowly focused. You start to focus on a specific goal and it begins to consume you. You become a servant to your goals. This causes you to not be aware and see what is going on around you.

Essentialism isn’t about focus. It’s about focusing on the right things at the right time. You need to have clarity about what is important in your business and your life. Admit that you know you’re lost. You can then find out what is important to you and build off that.


[14:10] How Essentialism Gets You Back on Track

As soon as you admit you’re lost you work on what you need to do. If you don’t know what’s most important right now, that is the most important thing you need to do. Taking space for yourself is important. Provide yourself time to get clarity and find what you need to focus on. Ask yourself what is essential in your life or business.

If you allow yourself to be in non-stop go mode, it’ll take over your life. You need to have awareness of when you need to stop. Explore what is essential and create space for yourself. Design what that space will look like. Over time it will change your trajectory and direction of both your life and business. It doesn’t happen overnight you need to consistently work on it. 

Bill Gates take a week off every 6 months to just think and read. This connects the dots between what is most important. This is critical to him in building Microsoft and helping with his foundation. If he doesn’t take this time he doesn’t get to see the big trends or take a different direction.

We are all going to get lost. You need to have mechanisms in place that will give you that space and bring you back on track. It’s more than just reflection, it’s getting a sense of context on where you’re at. Then we move towards what that most important thing is we want to pursue.

Greg loves to write. Every part of him wants to work on his new book. His publishers and agent reach out to him monthly asking if he’s ready for the second book. He found something when he gave himself space. He identified his essential thing was to do something in television.

Within days of his decision, Steve Harvey blogged about Greg’s book. Had he not given himself space he wouldn’t have noticed this blog. This helped him feel confirmed on his decision. He reached out to Steve Harvey. Greg ended up making several TV appearances and speaking events.


[31:35] Yes and No in Essentialism

Everyone has been where they made a commitment. But you regret saying yes. Figure out for yourself what to say yes to and what to say no to. Ask yourself on a scale of 1-100 how essential it is to do it. Focus first on the things that are above 90. Those are the most important.

It’s not about whether you want to or need to something. It’s about what is essential. You need to get into a mode where you can hear clarity. We need to go inwards if we want higher levels of clarity. We can’t focus on instant gratification. It can sometimes take 10x the work to get to clarity then it would to just carry on. But it’s 100x more valuable to find that clarity.

You won’t find clarity in your e-mails or social media. You need to be listening. Become a powerful listener to yourself. There’s so much noise all around us which makes it difficult to listen. Separate the ego voice in your life and the clarity voice in your life.

Don’t try to make everyone happy. Your ego voice will always try to lead you in the direction of proving something. But this drowns out your clarity voice. It’s hard to go down the right path or make the right decisions if you don’t have clarity. Priorities need to be re-organized constantly. Time and urgency change and we need to have clarity to know when to change them.


[42:30] Live Essentialism and See Change Over Time

Essentialism isn’t about saying no or narrowing your focus. It’s about living your life as meaningful as you can. It helps you choose where to spend your energy and who to spend your time with. Make small changes that will help guide you to those bigger changes.

Most people find it difficult to execute decisions leading to change. Make yourself a checklist. The impact of being organized on your life is surprising.

Greg started writing a journal a few years ago. What he’s grateful for and what matters to him. This moment gives him humility and a sense of cleansing. He recently realized that he has 10,000+ items that have built up over time. We underestimate what we can do over time.

When we put too much on ourselves in a short period of time we don’t get to it. Instead we need to build a checklist of what to do every single day of little things. Start small and over time you will see the impact. The checklist begins to replace that to-do list in your life.

You begin to learn from each day and help you make decisions for the next day. When you find a new thing that is essential to you, add it to the checklist. The power is in everyday consistency. We all believe rewards should be instantaneous.

Make tiny changes in the things you do often. Your diet, your system. You will see an impact over time. Most people don’t want to do the work that’s not fun. All that does is begin to build up. The higher it gets the higher your stress gets. Do a little bit here and there. Take time to identify what is essential first.

People have issues appreciating cumulative behavior. There’s only so much information we can keep. This makes it difficult for us to appreciate how much a little bit over time produces. It’s about the things you do consistently day after day.


[55:55] The Impact of Essentialism

What’s most important insight is hidden in plain sight. There’s no secret strategy to make your successful. Put in place essentialism ideas and make changes to see how your life can change. Create the right checklists and reduce the problems and stresses you have. Adjust your checklist over time so it works for what’s essential to you.


[59:25] Contact Greg

Greg utilizes Twitter to test out his ideas and see what resonates with people. You can follow him on Twitter @gregorymckeown


[1:00:55] How Greg Defines an Inner Changemaker

Greg’s definition of an inner changemaker is someone who becomes the person that moves to the larger goal. You need to understand the systems and how to bring yourself to that larger goal.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

The Listener

Greg McKeown

Follow Greg McKeown @GregoryMcKeown




Join the Legacy Driven Entrepreneurs Community (it’s FREE): http://www.theinnerchangemaker.com/tribe

Are you enjoying the podcast? Listen to the episode here and leave us a review:

Apple: http://apple.co/1JUHcG9
Android: http://bit.ly/2nuoGpl
TuneIn: http://bit.ly/2BjY0gU
Breaker: http://bit.ly/2BRwOCb
iHeartRadio: http://bit.ly/2BhMr9L
Spotify: http://spoti.fi/2BbuWEg

Want to grab my NEW audio training? Grab a FREE copy of "How To Be The Leader You Truly Are":

Launching a podcast? Grab my Podcast Creation Roadmap: