Success is a Catalyst for Failure

During his career in evaluating Silicon Valley executives, Greg McKeown evaluated how extremely successful or driven people can become less successful as time goes on. McKeown suggests that spreading the idea of “we can do it all” is one poisonous way professionals lose the single-minded focus that made them so successful to begin with.

Successful business people often drown in expectations, options, new opportunities and more, which causes them to lose focus and drive as they become more and more bogged down.

McKeown suggests that success becomes a catalyst for failure in the undisciplined pursuit of more. The solution? The Disciplined Pursuit of Less but Better. Exploring critical things you want to pursue and eliminate the unnecessary baggage so that professionals are focusing on what’s essential rather than all of the extra opportunities and options.

But how do we decide what’s essential?

In an age where information is widely available and instantly accessible, taking the time to sit and think is becoming more and more vital to discover what’s essential in life. When people actually sit down and process what is important to them, the perspective is clear and fairly simple to think through. However, McKeown argues that finding the time in this era is the major problem—not everyone can sit and process information and disconnect.

Once you’ve had time to discover what’s essential to your life, the next step is learning how to say no to extra responsibilities and commitments that don’t mean anything to you. McKeown observes that to some, saying “no” is unthinkable especially when it comes to family and friends. But essentialists experiment with saying no in order to preserve their essentials and be successful in them. It may benefit you to try saying “no” every once in a while; professionals who say no in a graceful, sensible way have more time to focus on things that matter.

What’s essential in your life? What are some ways you can experiment with refusing extra opportunities to focus on important tasks and goals?

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