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Is an Essentialist Running Your Business or Household?

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In the world of self- and business-improvement books, there’s enough pages to be read to keep you busy for the rest of your life. So much so that you could read your way through any action you should have taken.

How do we balance education with action? We have so many things calling for our attention, how do we know where it’s best to invest our time?

Enter “Essentialism”, the last book you’ll ever have to read…at least for a while.

“Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown has been one of my favorite books in recent history. I define a favorite book by one that I keep going back to in order to tackle life’s tasks, and one that I find myself recommending to friends and colleagues often. It didn’t make a monumental impact in my life, as it did for one of my members who immediately quit her job, but it continually influences my decisions every day as I question what is and isn’t Essential.

I wanted to write this post today for the business owner or household head who has to make important decisions daily that will affect others. This is also for the person who feels they have to make sacrifices regularly to please others, whether it be their family, team, or staff.

I have several families in my life. I have my family at home. My family of coaches at our gym. And my family of members. That last one is big. Right around 500 people in that family.

With those big families can come a lot of asks and expectations. You could be a stay at home mother of two and feel those same demands. I’m not special because I deal with more people. I will venture to say I get more practice being an Essentialist than most.

At times I feel like a big Scrooge, saying no, and maybe a few bah humbugs, to everything that comes across my path. I like being a positive person so it’s natural for me to want to say yes. That’s probably the hardest part of being an Essentialist, having to say no when it’s always been so easy to say yes.

With so many inevitable questions, I have to reserve my “yes” answers for the moments that matter. Everytime I say yes to something, it makes the chances greater that I will have to say no to something else. Or worse, say yes but not be able to follow through.

So how do we know when to say “yes” and when to say “no”?

The quickest way to determine whether something is Essential to your business or to your family is to develop a set of core values. These values will be set by the vision you and your family/team have for the whole.

Write your vision and values down. You can do this as a group or each do it on your own and come together with your ideas. The main point is to get on the same page so everyone understands the core values going forward.

This way, when a question or conflict arises, you can revisit your core values and let them lead your decision making. We want decision making to become effortless. Where we can focus more on doing and less on deciding.

It’s also important to realize what’s Essential to one person might not be to another. Everybody’s Essential is different. It’s why this book promises to help you clarify what is Essential to you, but it won’t tell you which things are Essential.

At home, we prioritize family and know our time together is precious. When it comes to our business, our first core value is “CFPB is a family”. When you have an at home core value that aligns with your business value, it makes it a lot easier for both to work in harmony.

I feel very fortunate to have the business partner I do, my one and only brother. Since we both have young families it’s easy for us to prioritize the same things in business and life. Even with those similarities and core values stated, we still hit roadblocks at times.

It’s why if you want to be an Essentialist, you have to state what is Essential to you. You have to make it clear to yourself, and make it clear to others. Clarity in your core values is Essential.

It’s Essential for my brother and I to have a gym that feels like you are walking into your own home. It’s clean, friendly, full of positive energy, and your whole family is welcome. It’s why we’ve prioritized a child care service so you don’t have to pick between family and your health. It’s why the only membership discounts we have are based on family members joining with you. It’s why we give paid time off and flexible hours to our staff to be with family when needed. It’s why we prioritize social events and get togethers outside of working out to help build those bonds with each other.

As our gym has grown, it comes with the “paradox of success” McKeown describes in his book.

He basically breaks it down like this. The clearer you get on what is Essential, the more success you will have. The more success you have, the more options you will be presented with. With your growing opportunities, clarity can become clouded. You must always be vigilant and embody the Essentialist even more as you grow.

The core values and mission of our gym is something we go back to often. It’s what reminds us how we got to where we are, and where we need to invest even more.

Speaking of investing, I was inspired by McKeown’s mention of Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men and most successful investors.

Think of Warren Buffett, who has famously said, “Our investment philosophy borders on lethargy.” What he means is that he and his firm make relatively few investments and keep them for a long time. 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.”

It’s reassuring to know that in a world that seems like it’s always asking more of us, it’s ok to give it less.

We can be selective with what we do, to only focus on the things that matter, the things that line up with our core values.

It’s critical as leaders that we set the example of the Essentialist. If you don’t set the tone of what is Essential to your business or family, you leave it up to your customer or kids to run the show. Which can be eerily similar at times.

Keep Living Essential,

Our next book club meeting is this Thursday the 11th at 7pm. We will be talking about “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. Here is the full audiobook on YouTube for Free if you’d like to check it out.

Still not sure if you’re an Essentialist or Nonessentialist…