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Monday 10 September 2018

Book Review: Essentialism

 Essentialism - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Essentialism - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is authored by Greg McKeown. I read this and Deep Work by Cal Newport in succession. (I will cover Deep Work in another post)

Like the name suggests, Essentialism talks about understanding what is essential to your life and then going ahead and concentrating to do it well. The author argues that following the Pareto Principle, most of the things in life are non-essential. 

I found this book to be a reminder for prioritizing the most important and valuable aspects and ignoring the rest. The concepts in the book are very valuable for an investor. Today, the biggest challenge for investors is not the access to information but on how to filter out the noise. There are hundreds of stock ideas floating around every day on WhatsApp groups, web forums, TV channels etc. Unless we are very clear on what to ignore, we will keep running from one thing to the other without being able to study and understand any one in depth.

Some points I found interesting in the book are as follows:

The pursuit of success can be a catalyst for failure. Put another way, success can distract us from focusing on the essential things that produce success in the first place.
In The Tao of Warren Buffett, Mary Buffett and David Clark explain: “Warren decided early in his career it would be impossible for him to make hundreds of right investment decisions, so he decided that he would invest only in the businesses that he was absolutely sure of, and then bet heavily on them. He owes 90% of his wealth to just ten investments. Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.”
“You have to look at every opportunity and say, ‘Well, no … I’m sorry. We’re not going to do a thousand different things that really won’t contribute much to the end result we are trying to achieve.’ ”
“I think it’s critical to set aside time to take a breath, look around, and think. You need that level of clarity in order to innovate and grow.” The demands of each day kept him from really stepping back to get perspective.
As with choice, people tend to think of focus as a thing. Yes, focus is something we have. But focus is also something we do.
“In the age of his celebrity, Newton was asked how he had discovered the law of universal gravitation. ‘By thinking on it continually’ was the reply.… What he thought on, he thought on continually, which is to say exclusively, or nearly exclusively.” In other words, Newton created space for intense concentration, and this uninterrupted space enabled him to explore the essential elements of the universe.
The faster and busier things get, the more we need to build thinking time into our schedule. And the noisier things get, the more we need to build quiet reflection spaces in which we can truly focus.
Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritize.
Likewise, in your life, the killer question when deciding what activities to eliminate is: “If I didn’t have this opportunity, what would I be willing to do to acquire it
Peter Drucker believed that “people are effective because they say no”. “We need to learn the slow ‘yes’ and the quick ‘no.’ ”

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