Jim Collins in his book How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, outlined how once-successful companies failed, and discovered that one significant contributor was what he labeled “the undisciplined pursuit of more.” It is true for companies and it is true for careers.
“The Pursuit of Less” can be easier after separating “The Trivial Many from The Significant Few,“ as Vilfredo Pareto‘s
Greg McKeown, co-author with Liz Wiseman (former VP at Oracle Corporation) of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, suggests the following steps:
Use more extreme criteria:
- Do I love this career?
- Do I love these career activities?
• “What am I deeply passionate about?“
• “What taps my talent?“
• “What meets a significant need in the world?“
- “What is essential?“
Eliminate the rest
- Conduct a life audit.
Eliminate an old activity before you add a new one.
Beware of the endowment effect or divestiture aversion, the self-confirmation bias of valuing something more once we own it.
Kahneman, Knetsch and Thaler found that when coffee mugs and pens of equal value were randomly distributed to volunteers, people were less willing to trade the item they were given for the other item.
The researchers concluded that “owning” either the pen or the coffee mug decreased the volunteers’ willingness to part with their objects, contradicting
Nobel prize winner Ronald Coase’s economic theorem which predicted that 50% of the objects would be traded.
To break this cognitive bias, Tom Stafford, psychology professor at
University of Sheffield and author of Mind Hacks, suggests asking “If I did not own this item, how much would I pay, invest, or sacrifice to obtain it?”
Similarly, McKeown argues for considered minimalism and simplicity in organizations, careers, and life.
-*How are you selective about your pursuits in career and life?