Essentialism

I recently listened to this podcast – an interview with Greg McKeown (@GregoryMcKeown) the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. And it got me thinking about the essential and non-essential within my own endeavours.
I as much as the next person can get side-tracked or speed-tracked into the pursuit of the urgent but often frivolous. To date my go-to mindfulness hacks to avoid meaningless busy-ness has been either the Eisenhower’s Decision matrix “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important” and Pareto’s principlethat 80 percent of consequences comes from 20 percent of the causes“. In practice this has meant a quick Eisenhower matrix or 80/20 thought review.
Over the years I have consistently found a few areas of life which are important to me and yield the most consequence (both personally and professionally). But success in this areas breeds more opportunities – and as I’ve gradually won more time to explore these areas so has the list of possible pursuits – the list of more. So I thought though it would be useful to review three areas of endeavour under the essentialism lense Greg McKeown advocates. In each area I asked myself three things:-
  1. What is an essential component not being pursued fully?
  2. What in this essential area will be remembered longer term?
  3. What non-essential pursuits steal energy from the pursuit of the essential?
Area 1 – Make things
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might”
Residing in this area of life is baking sourdough, creating enterprise, writing blogs and growing food – in short “making things”. And for me personally (a doer/fixer/maker/creator) making things is a deep need – simply put I like knowing how things work, whether that is how to make a loaf of sourdough or how to grow some grain.
  1. What is an essential component not being pursued fully? Thinking about and sharing in depth the practicalities of local food production in the Highlands. Bearing in mind the historic system of crofting agriculture (little changed and generally in decline), how can a more sustainable food production system take place on croft-land? What can be produced, how nutritious can be, how closed loop can it be done and what distribution system best gets it all consumed locally?
  2. What in this essential area will be remembered longer term? In the context of producing local food on a highland croft, we are but tenants and stewards of the land, owning nothing and taking nothing with us. So longer term, what would future generations of crofters remember of us as former tenants?:-
    • Soil health – so building good soil and sequestering carbon is essential
    • Solid Permaculture – so investing in permanent crops such as trees and hedges is essential.
    • Records – so writing and documenting lessons learned is essential.
    • Seed and stock genetics – retaining and building up a local strains of seed and stock is essential.
  3. What non-essential pursuits steal energy from the pursuit of the essential? Again in the context of producing local food on a highland croft it would be the pursuit of endless varieties. To get to more nutritious and more closed loop and, it will required less varieties and more focus.
Area 2 – Family & Community

“love thy neighbour as thyself”

Residing in this area of life is my family unit and the larger community of neighbours and friends hereabouts. There is joy and consequence in these close family and locality based relationships

  1. What is an essential component not being pursued fully? Spending more time on the goal of being available – that means availability to curious kids, involving in their self learning and embarking on their adventurous projects of curiosity.
  2. What in this essential area will be remembered longer term? Celebrating old and creating new local family and community traditions, and sharing stories.
  3. What non-essential pursuits steal energy from the pursuit of the essential Distance communities – I think distributed internet based communities steal energy from from this area – the internet is a tantalising medium for being involved in and building niche communities but pursuing that can lead to ignoring the family and community right beside you.
Area 3 – Body & mind

“your body is a temple”

Crofting is good for the soul but hard on the body. It is getting easier as the croft develops and more tools / infrastructure are acquired, but there was/is hard graft starting from a bare-land croft and there will be ongoing toil in the projects before us.

  1. What is an essential component not being pursued fully? This is an easy one – I think it is essential that the body should have a regular daily period of stretching – be that pilates or yoga, to increase flexibility and reduce injury.
  2. What in this essential area will be remembered longer term? The habit of body stretching provides an area of time and space to relax the mind (call it what you will – mindfulness, meditation, prayer).
  3. What non-essential pursuits steal energy from the pursuit of the essential? One word – sitting. The static pursuit of the sofa or office chair compacts the flexibility of the body. So constructs which keep you anchored to your chair for long periods (read here Netflix binging, and iPhone responding) are stealing from this area [on this topic I would recommend this guide on how to take reduce phone distraction].

Time to make, stretch & build community

I hope you enjoyed that brain picking – the first real stream of consciousness of 2019, but don’t worry – theres a good few in drafts pickling away in the draft folder….I’m off to make something (some sourdough), do some yoga (between folds!), and share that bread with a community of local growers. More soon.

 

3 thoughts on “Essentialism”

  1. I like how you broke down pieces that are important to you. In this busy world, we just need to step back and remember the things that matter and are essential in our lives

  2. Nice post. Got me thinking 😊 It takes a creative mind to be able to bring food into the concept of loving your neighbors as yourself! BTW, my take-home from here is that someone can’t just sit with redundancy and expect a major breakthrough. Good job!

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