Greg McKeown pulled up a chair next to me, looked at my calendar, and read my mail. At least, that is what it felt like. His book met me right where I live. And I would guess that the state that I live in is not so different from the state you live in. The state of panic? The state of overwhelm?
Okay, it may not be that bad. But we can’t deny the pressures of the fast-paced, high-demand world that we live in. We live in a world with seemingly limitless options. The flood of inputs and possibilities can be paralyzing. If we aren’t paralyzed, then we likely find ourselves caught trying to manage it all.
In Essentialism, Greg McKeown gives us an alternative strategy for facing all of life’s demands. He calls it “the disciplined pursuit of less.” It is the art of discerning the trivial many from the vital few. When we give ourselves permission to stop trying to do it all and we stop saying “yes” to everyone, we can make our highest contribution to the things that really matter.
I want to HIGHLY recommend this book. You need the focus that employing it’s strategies will bring. Life is short. Much of what takes our attention means nothing in the end. Time is the one thing that you can never get back. We need to invest it in what is essential.
I also want to add that Greg and his team have done a wonderful job of making this book appealing to the senses. The pictures and diagrams are playful. The texture of the book is amazing. I enjoyed carrying it around. In fact, I should warn you that if you pick up a hard copy of this book, you will have a hard time putting it down.
I recently tweeted that I had downloaded Michael Hyatt’s first e-book, Creating Your Person Life Plan. A good friend of mine responded by asking my opinion of the book, asking if I thought Mr. Hyatt’s approach was Biblical. I’ve had other friends who suggested that goal-setting and life-planning of any kind were directly opposed to God’s Word.
I can understand the concern. After reading through Mr. Hyatt’s book, I must confess that I am not comfortable with all of the verbiage that he uses. For example, the subtitle of the book is “A Step-by-Step Guide for Designing the Life You’ve Always Wanted.” If I am responsible for designing my life, I’m afraid it will fall incredibly short of what it could be if I allow God to design it.
Also, Mr. Hyatt prioritizes his “life accounts,” stressing the importance of taking care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. His list looks like this:
3. Gail (Spouse)
Others would argue that “self” should come after others as we are called to be servants to all. The problem is in trying to list these accounts in order of importance. Rather than a list, I suggest we put our relationship with God at the center of our life. When our relationship with Him is correct, the other accounts are a natural outflow of this relationship.
That being said, Let me tell you why I love Mr. Hyatt’s book and how I have been using these ideas and resources for the past year.
If you know me well at all, you know that I am task oriented. I am a planner. I set goals and strive to meet those goals. I have been using the Life Plan format and the Weekly Review and Quarterly Review for the past year and I can honestly say that it has increased my focus and productivity by leaps and bounds.
The key is in how you use tools like these. Planning and goal setting can be dangerous or it can be beneficial depending upon your starting point. When I set goals, they are based on the vision and purpose that God has already revealed to me concerning His will for my life. I don’t use a Life Plan to design my life. Rather, I use it to move me forward in God’s revealed plan for my life.
Two people see the same thing, the difference is in perception. Their perception will be determined by their attitude. Their external experience is the same, but their internal conclusions are dramatically opposed.
This familiar scenario is played out for us in Numbers 13 with twelve spies and conflicting reports. As Israel approaches the Promised Land, the Lord speaks to Moses commanding him to send one leader from each tribe to spy out the land that he is going to give the children of Israel. Notice that all twelve were leaders and all twelve received the same promise (Numbers 13:2).
All twelve men had the same external experience. Their reports confirmed the promises of God concerning the land. “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.” (Numbers 13:27)
However, their internal experiences were quite different.
“We are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)
“We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” (Numbers 13:31)
Ten spies said, “We are grasshoppers compared to our enemy.” Two spies said, “Our enemies are grasshoppers compared to our God!”
Ten put difficulty between themselves and God. Two put God between themselves and difficulty.
Ten saw with the eyes of the flesh. Two saw with the eye of faith.
Ten saw an obstacle between themselves and their promise. Two saw an opportunity for their God to show Himself mighty.
Your focus determines your faith. Your attitude determines your altitude.
My posts this week will be completing my “takeaways” from the Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010 and after that I will be taking a two-week break while I prepare for vacation, enjoy vacation, and recover from vacation!!! In looking over last week’s posts, I have decided that this week, I want to spend less time telling you what the speakers said and more time telling you what I thought about what they said. I’m sorry, the speakers said things much more intelligent than you will find written here, but I don’t really feel like retyping my notes anymore!
Speaker #7: John Maxwell – Leadership expert and best-selling author of…lots of books.
I am sure that most of you have heard of Mr. Maxwell and probably read a few of his books. I started reading his books when I was about twelve years old and I think I have read all of them with the exception of his most recent book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. Mr. Maxwell always has a plethora (3 Amigos!) of practical leadership knowledge, and this event was no exception. He did, however, say one thing that really stuck out to me.
Allow me to paraphrase: “Real leaders aren’t lonely at the top because they do not see themselves as “at the top”. They are too busy going down to get others and take them up.”
I guess this caught my attention because I have often heard it said, “Leadership is a lonely place.” And in a certain sense, I think that is true. But a lot of the loneliness that we may face as leaders is the result of our focus shifting from those that we are leading (not to mention the One that we are following) to ourselves.
This is why I like Philip so much. Philip was never too worried about himself. No one really thinks of him when they are thinking of great leaders of the Bible. But he was one of the greatest. He was always finding people and bringing them to Jesus. He was always willing to go where no one else wanted to go. It was never about him. It was about those he was leading, and the One they were following. Philip understood the art of being a first follower.
Are you lonely? I will let you in on a little secret…so are they! They are waiting for someone to lead them, someone to go and get them. There is your cure to loneliness; share the love of Christ!