Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – A Book Review


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Essentialism

Essentialism is not simply a book. It is a philosophy, and a challenging one at that.

In 20 very readable and engaging chapters, author Greg McKeown explains the origins of the philosophy of essentialism, the fact that he has embraced it in his life and the manner in which his readers can make it a part of theirs. He also makes no apologies for the fact that essentialism is a challenging – some might say “difficult” – pursuit and that becoming a true essentialist takes mindset, energy and time.

The book is entertaining, the material presented with a very appealing mix of research and humor. McKeown is a talented writer, balancing anecdote and data deftly. And, while he is clearly proselytizing for his vision of the world and is championing the essentialism philosophy, his approach is not off-putting in the least. Yes, there were moments when he would share how this lifestyle works and my response would be “nice, but how does that work in the real world.” There were elements I found, for me, far more aspirational than achievable. However, the overall concept is very, very appealing.

Do less. Do it better. Do what is essential. It is difficult to argue with those maxims and, when presented in such a compelling fashion as they are, who would want to?

The world seems to demand ever more of us and, in the world of education in which I work, it surely demands ever more of students and teachers. The idea that a significant analysis should take place, that we in authority should slow down and ask if we need to do all we are doing is powerful. What can stay? What can go?

What is essential?

Great questions.

While daunted by the philosophy and intrigued by whether or not I would have the discipline to become an essentialist myself, I heartily recommend the book!

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