“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”
The majority of things don’t matter – they barely impact getting what we want or need – this makes finding those that do matter essential.
Why play is essential:
* When kids are stressed and things feel out of control, I have them draw…the change is almost immediate.’
* Play stimulates the parts of the brain involved in careful, logical reasoning and carefree, unbound exploration. (Edward M. Hallowell, psychiatrist)
Why sleep is essential:
* K. Andres Ericsson’s famous study of violinists gave us the 10,000 hour rule showing how the best violinists make a habit of practicing more. And it also showed the second most important factor was that the best violinists slept on average 8.6 hours per night (~1 hour more than the average American) and they spent ~2.8 hours napping over the course of a week. More practice + more sleep = ideal growth & learning.
* Prioritizing sleep protects your ability to prioritize.
Prioritizing is often largely about eliminating the non-essential.
Purpose = “the one decision that makes a thousand”
* Find purpose by asking “If we could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be?” and then “How will we know when we’ve succeeded?”
Learning to say No. Saying “no” often trades popularity for respect.
A clear No is better that a non committed Yes. Make a practice of supporting in other ways (referrals, or “I’m willing to do X, if you can do Y”
Make a habit of editing your life. Good editing makes it obvious to an outside observer what is important. So, if an outside observer were to watch your life, would they be able to tell what matters most to you? If not, edit.
Good editing uses deliberate subtraction to add life to the ideas, setting, plot, and characters”
“Projects and commitments tend to expand—despite our best efforts—to fill the amount of time allotted to them.”
Before starting a project, take time to prepare – in particular to build in buffers to reduce potential friction in the work. Use these question to do so:
1. What risks do you face on this project?
2. What is the worst-case scenario?
3. What would the social effects of this be?
4. What would the financial impact of this be?
5. How can you invest to reduce risks or strengthen financial or social resilience? (this question can point to the buffers needed. ex. more time, another person involved, research needed, etc.)
A routine oriented toward what matters most reduces the effort needed in the pursuit. This happens as you practice the routine, which rewires the synapses in your brain making each repetition of a routine easier to do.
Use triggers to kick off routines (James Clear’s Atomic Habits goes deep on this)
Losing vs. Being Beaten – It’s ok to be beaten, that means someone else what better than you, but losing is unacceptable, that means you failed to focus on what was essential. You beat yourself.
Essential Leadership focuses on the few things that leader must be great at, this short list includes: being clear on purpose, empowering, hiring the right people, communicating
Make a habit of asking “What is essential here?” Then eliminate all the rest.