THE STRAIGHT UP
I Promise to Say No Learning to be Essential and Effective
Did you know that before the 20th century, the word “priorities” didn’t exist? Priority means “the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important.”We can only have one priority, one most important thing. Multiple priorities are just a to-do list. It wasn’t until around the 1940s that people started to claim they had more than one priority. They began to fill their days with too many priorities, and their lives became cluttered. Spring is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings. Over the last fewmonths, I know a lot of people went crazy over Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” style of minimalism and decluttering their homes. My husband and I have already done that, so my goal is to declutter my life. To do this, the first step is rereading “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” byGreg McKeown. This book is incredible. I’ve read it three times! Not because it’s complicated, but because the concepts are so simple that sometimes you need to remind yourself of them. I highly “... I NEED TO BE RUTHLESS ABOUT GETTING RID OF WHAT’S NOT ESSENTIAL .”
recommend this book to everyone. CEO of THIS, Inc., Greg McKeown is an expert of replacing the “We can have it all” mentality with “I’m going to do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.” There are many great concepts in “Essentialism,” but the one that really stuck out to me was a story about Hungarian professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.When Professor Csikszentmihalyi was writing his book on creativity, he wanted to interview creative individuals. One of these individuals was Peter Drucker, the father of modern management thinking. Drucker’s response to the invitation was nothing short of amazing: “I amgreatly honored and flattered by your kind letter of Feb. 14— for I have admired you and your work for many years, and I have learnedmuch from it. But, my dear Professor Csikszentmihalyi, I amafraid I have to disappoint you. I could not possibly answer your questions. I am told I am creative— I don't knowwhat that means … I just keep on plodding… I hope that you will not think me presumptuous or rude if I say that one of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe whereas I do not believe in creativity) is to have aVERY BIGwaste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours —productivity inmy experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one's time on the work that theGood Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well.”
Or, as McKeown put it, “Peter Drucker believed that people are effective because they say no.”
As someone who has a bad habit of saying yes to everything, I thought this story was awesome. This year, my mission is to focus on what is essential. To do this, I need to be ruthless about getting rid of what’s not essential. This means I need to start saying no. I vow to say no to requests I can’t fulfill, no to other people’s agendas, and, most importantly, no to myself when I try to stray away frommy priorities. Seven years ago, my friend Joanne climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. I thought that sounded so cool and thought about attempting it myself.
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