In 2015, I read Greg McKeown’s 2014 work, Essentialism. As I head into 2016, I’m looking at incorporating many of its principles. Here in the land of hyper connectivity, who doesn’t need a little help when it comes trying to discern the trivial from the transcendent, the major from the minor, and the worthwhile from the eventually worthless?
As I look back on 2015, it’s hard not to dwell on some of things that I got caught up in that really didn’t warrant the time I gave it. As a Catholic, I’ve got access to the confessional, so I won’t share the gory details here, but rest assured, I’ve committed no shortage of CEO sins that I wonder how many others in my shoes have committed as well.
For example, we’ve become accustomed to the idea that we can be really good at so many things, really informed about so many issues, or really impactful in so many areas that we inherently have opinions on things that are simply outside of our domain. In 2016, I resolve to say, “I don’t know” a whole lot more. I’m not trying to pass the buck here, I’m simply admitting that I can’t possibly have the answer to everything from the college football playoff to FAA regulations regarding Amazon drones.
In 2016, I’m resolving to become less of generalist and more of a specialist. Admittedly, the specialist in me isn’t much fun at dinner parties (the inner nuances of a phone bill just aren’t that exciting to many people), but it is the specialist in me that typically gets things done. The generalist in me is comfortable in diverse settings, but it is the specialist who moves the meter for my customers, and the specialist who makes Juvo a great place to work for our employees. Though the limitless entry points for information have made it harder to act with coherence, I’m not talking about taking up residence in a bubble and assuming an air of blissful ignorance. Rather, I’m simply recognizing the need to be both realistic and focused in order to make better use of the time and resources available. To do this takes discipline, which is why McKeown’s book includes the subtitle: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
This “discipline” is really the underlying theme that I think all of us would be wise to recognize as we move into 2016. When getting information or data was hard, we seemed to have treated it better. Now that it’s easy to get it, it’s often treated like the commodity that it too easily becomes when there isn’t the discipline to make educated, systematic, coherent sense of it all. Just having the numbers doesn’t mean you understand the nuances, the meaning, and the potential magic behind them.
So, it’s a pretty short list this year:
- Have the humility to say, “I don’t know” more often
- Have the discipline to become a specialist in those areas where the greatest impact can be made
A Happy New Year to each of you!