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Coaching, Coding and Learning By George Evjen

These are my notes for the book 'Essentialism - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. The bulleted items are extracted from the book - and anything I may throw in has been italicized.


The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.


  • Rushing from one meeting and conference call to another - trying to please everyone - trying to get it all done
  • Stress levels go up  and quality goes down
  • Majoring in minor activities.
    • I remember from my coaching days I sat down and had lunch with an NBA assistant coach. He told me a story about how at one point he was working with Denny Crum (a former and legendary head coach at the University of Louisville) and he had heard how Coach Crum was very rough on the kids. As practice started one day, one of their best players was over on a side basket and was launching up left handed shots (the player was a right handed player). The assistant ran over to Coach Crum and said look at that, he's not doing what he should be and he's messing around. Thinking that Crum would light the player up, Coach Crum looked at the new assistant and said. 'Hes a senior, he's averaging over 20 points a game, he's here every day, and for the most part does what we say….'Don’t major in minors'.  The coach talked to me for about 30 minutes about this very subject. About great leaders know how to focus on what is important and dismiss what isn't.
  • Do only those things that you deem essential
    • College basketball coach has a sign on his desk "Does it help us Win" reminds himself every day - to focus and only do the things that help him/them win games. If it doesn’t help them win - he doesn’t do it.
  • "Can I actually do this request, given the time and resources I have."
  • Now when a request comes in pause and evaluate the request against a tougher criteria
    • "is this  the very most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources right now"
  • By being selective he bought himself space, and in that space he found creative freedom.
  • Instead of spinning your wheels trying to get everything done, get the right things done.
  • Find a newfound commitment to doing only the things that are truly important.
  • Give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, you can make the highest contribution to the things that matter the most.
    • Coach K at Duke - says the first 15 years of his coaching tenure at Duke he said yes to everything - then he started to get very successful. Had back surgery, missed an entire season, almost retired. Choose to start saying no to people/events - now says this is the best he's ever felt and some would argue he's much more successful coach.
  • Do you feel overworked and underutilized?
  • Do you major in minor activities?
  • Are you busy but not productive
    • Coach Wooden : 'Don’t mistake activity for achievement/accomplishment.' Coach Wooden used to tell his players - your running around, sweating and thinking you are doing things - you haven't accomplished anything.


The Way of the Essentialist

  • Dieter Rams - (Designer for the Braun Company)
  • Driven by the idea that almost everything is noise.
  • Three German words - Weniger aber besser : English translation 'Less but Better'
  • The way of the essentialist is the relentless pursuit of less…but better.
  • It is about pausing and constantly to ask, "Am I investing in the right activities"
  • Essentialism is not about getting more things done - it's about how to get the right things done.
  • By investing in fewer things we have the satisfying experience of making progress in the things that matter the most.
  • The essentialist rejects the idea that 'we can fit it all in'
  • Vital few from the trivial many.
  • Where is your highest point of contribution and then make execution of those things effortless.


The Way of the Nonessentialist

  • If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
  • 'Why is it' I wonder "that we have so much more ability inside of us than we often chose to utilize"


  • Book: 'Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter'
  • What would happen if we could figure out the one thing that you could do that would make the highest contribution.
  • The paradox of success - which can be summered up in four phases.
    • Phase One: Clarity of purpose
    • Phase Two: We have success then become the go to person
    • Phase Three: When we have increased options and opportunities - which leads to more demands on our time and energies.
    • Phase Four: We become distracted from what would otherwise be our highest level of contribution.
  • Success can distract us from focusing on the essential things that produce success in the first place.
  • Book: 'How the Mighty Fall' - Jim Collins
  • The undisciplined pursuit of more.


Why Nonessentialism is Everywhere.

  • Too many choices.
    • There has been an increase in the amount of choices the past decade.
    • We have lost sight of the most important choices - because there are too many
  • Too much social pressure
    • The strength and number of outside influences on our decisions has increased.
    • Technology has lowered the barrier for others to share their opinion about what you should be focusing on.
  • The idea that 'You can have it all'


  • Strategically eliminating the nonessentials
  • Will this activity make the highest contribution to my goal
  • You need a system to make executing your intentions effortless as possible.
  • Create a process that makes getting essential things done effortless.
  • Essentialism is a discipline you apply each and every time you are faced with a  decision about whether to say yes or no.


What is the Core Mind-Set of an Essentialist

  • Individual Choice: We choose how to spend our time and energy
  • The prevalence of noise: Almost everything is noise and a very few things are exceptionally essential.
  • The reality trade-offs: We can't have it all or do it all.


Posted on Friday, July 1, 2016 6:01 PM Essentialism - McKeown | Back to top

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It is really essential to learn all these tips as this will help you become the best coach that you can be. - Mark Zokle
Left by Albert Williams on Sep 09, 2016 1:31 AM

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