This episode of The Tim Ferriss Show showcases two chapters from Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (@GregoryMcKeown), one of my favorite books of the past few years.

The first chapter explains how to say "no" gracefully (and why most of us have trouble doing this in the first place), and the second one gives us ways to cut our losses and uncommit in the aftermath of a premature "yes."

This should help you shorten your to-do list and lengthen your not-to-do list.


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00:00:00Active that this out too I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking tonight Now what Like i'm a cybernetic organism living tissue over metal right This episode of the timbers show is brought to you by linked in the right higher can make
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00:02:36fifty dollars off your first job post Lincoln dot com forwards Life tim take a look Terms and conditions do apply Hello my sexy little minx is this is tim paris and welcome to another episode of the tim farriss show where it is my job generally speaking to deconstruct
00:02:55world class performers of different types to tease out the habits routines favorite books and so on that you can use this episode I am going to showcase one of my recent favorite books and by recent i say in the last few years there are not many books that
00:03:14i highlight something within nearly every page much less than printing out those highlights putting them together with a binder clip and carrying around a various points to review and two journal on and so forth and so on That book that i'm referring to is essential ism subtitled the
00:03:35disciplined pursuit of less it is a fantastic book I was very impressed the first time i read it i've been continually impressed when i've reread it It's had an impact in how i approach various types of problems and opportunities so i want to share two chapters from that
00:03:54book with you read by the author gregg mcewen Gregory mcewan on twitter let me spell that for you it's a little tricky for most yanks gregory mcewen m i c k e t o w n also gregory mcewen dot com on dh i'm lying It is not gregory
00:04:16the human dot com it's greg mcewen dot com so you can figure it out There aren't too many greg or gregory mcewan's running around associated with essential ism the two chapters that i'm going to share our related to how to say no gracefully and howto un commit because
00:04:33i think it is very easy to listen to podcasts with success stories and tactics and habits and to create and ever growing or never ending to do list You might have seventy three different things on the draft version of your morning routine and that is stressful so i
00:04:53would like to help you Visa vi greg and his book essential ism two maybe shorten your to do list and lengthen you're not to do list so again these two chapters are from essential ism subtitle the discipline pursuit of less maybe sometime i will have greg on the
00:05:11podcast discussed further but this episode is experimental I am considering showcasing books not brand new books so publishers who are listening Do not hammer we with a thousand pitches They're not going to get in Will not be on Yeah but books that were published at least a few
00:05:27years ago showcasing books that i have read at least two times And this is one of them So let me know if you like it And without further ado how to say no gracefully howto un commit By greg mcewen Chapter eleven Damn The power of a graceful no
00:05:51courage is grace under pressure Ernest hemingway The right no spoken at the right time can change the course of history in just one example of many rosa parks quiet butt resolute refusal to give up her seat on a segregated montgomery bus at exactly the right moment coalesced into
00:06:13forces that propelled the civil rights movement As punch recalls when the bus driver saw me still sitting he asked if i was going to stand up and i said no i'm not contrary to popular belief her courageous no did not grow out of a particularly assertive tendency or
00:06:33personality in general In fact when she was made a secretary to the president of the montgomery chapter of the end of lacey p she explained why was the only woman there and they needed a secretary and i was too timid to say no Rather her decision on the
00:06:49bus grew out of a deep conviction about what deliberate choice she wanted to make in that moment When the bus driver ordered her out of her seat she said i felt a determination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night she did not know how her
00:07:05decision would spark a movement with reverberations Around the world But she did know her own mind She knew even as she was being arrested that it was the very last time that i would ever ride in humiliation of this kind Avoiding that humiliation was worth the risk of
00:07:23incarceration Indeed to her it was essential It is true that we are hopefully unlikely to find ourselves facing a situation like the one faced by rosa parks Yet we can be inspired by her We can think of her when we need the courage to dare to say no
00:07:42We can remember her strength of conviction when we need to stand our ground in the face of social pressure to capitulate to the non essential have you ever felt the tension between what you felt was right on what someone was pressuring you to do Have you ever felt
00:07:57the conflict between your internal conviction and an external action Have you ever said yes when you meant no simply to avoid conflict or friction Have you ever felt too scared or timid to turn down an invitation or request from a boss colleague friend neighbor or family member for
00:08:16fear of disappointing them If you have you're not alone Navigating these moments with courage and grace is one of the most important skills to master in becoming an essential ist and one of the hardest I did not set out to write a chapter about courage but the deprived
00:08:34looked at the subject of essential is um the more clearly i have seen courage as key to the process of elimination without courage the discipline pursuit of less is just lip service It is just the stuff of one more dinner party conversation It is skin deep Anyone can
00:08:51talk about the importance of focusing on the things that matter most and many people do But to see people who dare to live it is rare I say this without judgment we have good reasons to fear saying no we worry will miss out on a great opportunity I
00:09:08was scared of rocking the boat stirring things up burning bridges We can't bear the thought of disappointing someone we respect and like none of this makes us a banned person It's a natural part of being human Yet as hard as it can be to say no to someone
00:09:24failing to do so can cause us To miss out on something far more important a woman named cynthia once told me a story about the time her father had made plans to take her on a night out in san francisco twelve year old cynthia and her father had
00:09:40been planning the date for months They had a whole itinerary planned down to the minute she would attend the last hour of his presentation and then meet him at the back of the room at about four thirty Leave quickly before everyone tried to talk to him They would
00:09:56catch a trolley car to chinatown eat chinese food their favorite shop for a souvenir see the sights for a while and then catch a flick As a dad liked to say Then they would grab a taxi back to the hotel jump in the pool for a quick swim
00:10:10Her dad was famous for sneaking in when the pool was closed Order a hot fudge sundae from room service and watch the late late show They discussed the details over and over before they left The anticipation was part of the whole experience This was all going according to
00:10:28plan until as her father was leaving The convention center he ran into an old college friend and business associate It had been years since they had seen each other and cynthia watched as they embraced enthusiastically his friends said In effect i'm so glad you're doing some work with
00:10:44our company now When lois and i heard about it we thought it would be perfect We want to invite you and of course cynthia to get a spectacular seafood dinner down at the warf cynthia's father responded bob it's so great to see you dinner at the worf sounds
00:10:59great Cynthia was crestfallen today dreams of trolley rides and ice cream sundaes evaporated in an instant plus she hated seafood and she could just imagine how bored she would be listening to the adults talk all night but then her father continued but not tonight Cynthia and i have
00:11:19a special date plan don't we He winked at cynthia and grabbed her hand and they ran out of the door and continued with what was an unforgettable night in san francisco As it happens cynthia's father was the management thinking steven r covey author of the seven habits of
00:11:37highly effective people who had passed away Only weeks before cynthia told me this story so it was with deep emotion she recalled that evening in san francisco His simple decision bonded him to me forever because i knew what mattered most to him was me she said Stephen r
00:11:57covey one of the most respected and widely read business thinkers of his generation was an essential ist not only did he routinely teach essential ist principles like the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing two important leaders and heads of state around the world
00:12:12He lived them and in this moment of living them with his daughter he made a memory that literally outlasted his lifetime seeing with some perspective his decisions seems obvious but many in his shoes would have accepted the friends invitation for fear of seeming rude or ungrateful or passing
00:12:30up a rare opportunity to dine with an old friend So why is it so hard in the moment to dare to choose what is essential over what is non essential One simple answer is we are unclear about what is essential when this happens We become defenseless on the
00:12:48other hand when we have strong internal clarity It is almost as if we have a force field protecting us from the non essentials coming at us from all directions With rosa it was had deep moral clarity that gave her unusual courage of conviction With stephen It was the
00:13:05clarity of his vision for the evening with his loving daughter in virtually every instance clarity about what is essential fuels as with the strength to say no to the non essentials Essentially awkward The second reason why it is hard to choose what is essential in the moment is
00:13:23as simple as an innate fear of social awkwardness The fact is we as humans are wired to want to get along with others After all thousands of years ago when we all lived in tribes of hunter gatherers are survival depended on it And while conforming to what people
00:13:38in a group expected vers what psychologists call normative conformity is no longer a matter of life and death The desire is still deeply ingrained in us This is why whether it's an old friend to invite you to dinner or a boss who asks you to take on an
00:13:53important high profile project or a neighbor who begs you to help with the p t a bake sale The very thought of saying no literally brings as physical discomfort We feel guilty We don't want to let someone down We are worried about damaging the relationship but these emotions
00:14:12muddle our clarity They distract us from the reality of the fact that either we can say no and regret it for a few minutes or we can say yes and regret It for days weeks months or even years The only way out of this trap is to learn
00:14:29to say no firmly resolutely and yet gracefully Because once we do we find not only that our fears of disappointing or angry others were exaggerated but the people actually respect as mohr since becoming an essential ist i have found it almost universally true that people respect and admire
00:14:47those with the courage of conviction to say no Peter drucker in my view the father of modern management thinking was also a master of the art of the graceful no when mi hye check sent me hae the hungarian professor most well known for his work on flow reached
00:15:04out to interview a siri's of creative individuals for a book he was writing on creativity Drucker's response was interesting enough to me high that he quoted it verbatim I am greatly honored and flattered by your kind letter of february fourteenth For i have admired you and your work
00:15:20for many years And i've learned much from it But my dear professor exempt me Hi I am afraid i have to disappoint you I could not possibly answer your questions I am told i'm creative I don't know what that means I just keep on plodding I hope you
00:15:38will not think me presumptuous or rude if i say that one of the secrets of productivity in which i believe whereas i do not believe in creativity is to have a very big waste paper basket to take care of all invitations such as yours Productivity in my experience
00:15:54consists off not doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one's time on the work the good lord has fitted one to do and to do well a true essential ist peter drucker believed that people are effective because they say no non essential
00:16:14ists say yes because of feelings of social awkwardness and pressure they say yes automatically without thinking often in pursuit of the rush one gets from having please someone but essential is no that after the rush comes the pang of regret they know they will soon feel bullied and
00:16:34resentful both of the other person and that themselves Eventually they will wake up to the unpleasant reality that something more important must now be sacrificed to accommodate this new commitment of course the point is not to say no to all requests The point is to say no to
00:16:50the non essential so we can say yes to the things that really matter It is to say no frequently and gracefully too everything but what is truly vital a non essential ist avoid saying noto avoid feeling social awkwardness and pressure an essential ist dares to say no firmly
00:17:11resolutely and gracefully a nonessential ist say's yes to everything and essential ist say's yes only to the things that really matter So how do we learn to say no gracefully below our general guidelines forward by a number of specific scripts for delivering the graceful no separate the decision
00:17:34from the relationship When people ask us to do something we can confuse the request with our relationship with them Sometimes they seem so interconnected we forget that denying the request is not the same is denying the person only once we separate the decision from the relationship could we
00:17:52make a clear decision and then separately find the courage and compassion to communicate it Saying no gracefully doesn't have to mean using the word no essential ists choose no more often than they say no there may be a time when the most graceful way to say no is
00:18:13to simply say a blonde no but whether it's i am flattered that you thought of me but i'm afraid i don't have the bandwidth or i would very much like to but i'm overcommitted There are a variety of ways of refusing someone clearly and politely without actually using
00:18:30the word no later in the chapter you'll find more examples of ways to gracefully word you're no focus on the trade off The more we think about what we are giving up when we say yes to someone the easier it is to say no if we have no
00:18:48clear sense off the opportunity cost in other words the value of what we are giving up then it is especially easy to fall into the nonessential trap of telling ourselves we can get it all done We can't A graceful no grows out of a clear but unstated calculation
00:19:05of the trade off Remind yourself that everyone is selling something This doesn't mean you have to be cynical about people I don't mean to imply people shouldn't be trusted I'm simply saying everyone is selling something an idea a viewpoint an opinion in exchange for your time Simply being
00:19:24aware of what is being sold allows us to be more deliberate in deciding whether we want to buy it Make your peace with the fact that saying no often requires trading popularity for respect when you say no there is usually a short term impact on the relationship After
00:19:44all when someone asks for something and doesn't get it his or her immediate reaction maybe annoyance or disappointment or even anger this downside is clear The potential upside however is less obvious when the initial annoyance or disappointment or anger wears off the respect kicks in when we push
00:20:03back effectively it shows people that our time is highly valuable it distinguishes the professional from the amateur A case in point is the time that graphic designer paul rand had the guts to say no to steve jobs when jobs was looking for a logo for the company Next
00:20:21he asked rand whose work included the logos for ibm ups enron westinghouse and abc to come up with a few options Moran didn't want to come up with a few options He wanted to design just one option saran said No i will solve your problem for you and
00:20:41you will pay me and you don't have to use the solution if you want options go talk to other people but i will solve the problem the best way i know how and you use it or not that's up to you not surprisingly ran solved the problem and
00:20:57created the jewel logo jobs wanted But the real lesson here is the effect ran's pushback had on jobs who later set of rand He is one of the most professional people i have ever worked with in the sense that he had thought through all of the formal relationship
00:21:13between a client and a professional such as himself Ran took a risk when he said no he better short term popularity loss for a long term gain in respect and it paid off essential ists Except they cannot be popular with everyone all of the time Yes saying no
00:21:33respectfully reasonably and gracefully can come at a short term social cost But part of living the way of the essential ist is realizing respect is far more valuable than popularity in the long run Remember that it clear no can be more graceful than a vague or non committal
00:21:52Yes as anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of this situation knows a clear i am going to pass on This is far better than not getting back to someone or stringing them along with some non committal answer Like i will try to make this work
00:22:07Or i might be able to when you know you can't Being vague is not the same as being graceful And delaying the eventual no will only make it that much harder on the recipient that much more resentful The no repertoire remember essential ists Don't say no just occasionally
00:22:28it is a part of their regular repertoire to consistently say no with grace Then it helps to have a variety of responses to call upon Following our eight responses you can put in your no repertoire one the awkward pause instead of being controlled by the threat of an
00:22:49awkward silence own it Use it as a tool when the request comes to you Obviously this works only in person Just pause for a moment count to three before delivering your verdict or if you get a bit more bold simply wait for the other person to fill the
00:23:05void Two the soft no for the nobody i recently received an email inviting me to coffee I replied i am consumed with writing my book right now smiley face but i would love to get together once the book is finished Let me know if we can get together
00:23:25towards the end of the summer Email is also a good way to start practicing saying no but because it gives you the chance to draft and re draft your know to make it as graceful as possible Plus many people find that the distance off email reduces the fear
00:23:42of awkwardness Three let me check my calendar and get back to you One leader i know found her time being hijacked by other people all day a classic non essential ist she was capable and smart and unable to say no and as a result she soon became a
00:24:01go to person People would run up to her and say could you help with x project Meaning to be a good citizen She said yes but soon she felt burdened with all of these different agendas Things changed for her when she learned to use a new phrase let
00:24:17me check my calendar and get back to you It gave her the time to pause and reflect and ultimately reply that she was regretfully unavailable It enabled her to take back control of her own decisions rather than be rushed into a yes when she was asked for use
00:24:34email bounce backs It is totally natural and expected to get an order response when someone is traveling or out of the office Really this is the most socially acceptable No there is People aren't saying they don't want to reply to your email they're just saying they can't get
00:24:51back to you for a period of time So why limit these two vacations and holidays When i was writing this book i sent an email bounced back with subject line in monk mode the email said Dear friends i'm currently working on a new book which has put enormous
00:25:09burdens on my time Unfortunately i am unable to respond in the manner i would like for this I apologize greg and guess what People seem to adapt to my temporary absence and non responsiveness just fine Five say yes What should i d prioritize Saying no to a senior
00:25:33leader at work is almost unthinkable even laughable for many people however when saying yes is going to compromise your ability to make the highest level of contribution to your work it is also your obligation in this case it is not only reasonable to say no it is essential
00:25:51One effective way to do that is to remind your superiors what you would be neglecting if you said yes and forced them to grapple with the trade off For example if your manager comes to you and asks you to do x you can respond with yes i'm happy
00:26:06to make this the priority which of these other projects should i de prioritize to pay attention to this new project I'll simply say i would want to do a great job and given my other commitment i wouldn't be able to do a job I was proud off if
00:26:21i took this on i know a leader who received this response from a subordinate There was no way he wanted to be responsible for disrupting this productive and organized employees So he took the non essential work project back and gave it to someone else who was less organized
00:26:40Six say it with humor I recently was asked by a friend to join him in training for a marathon My response was simple Nope he laughed a little and said you practice what you preach just goes to show how useful it is to have a reputation as an
00:26:57essential ist seven use the words you are welcome to x i am willing tto why for example you're welcome to borrow my car I'm willing to make sure the keys are here for you By this you are Also saying i won't be able to drive you you are
00:27:15saying what you will not do but you are counting it in terms of what you are willing to do This is a particularly good way to navigate a request you would like to support somewhat but cannot throw your full weight behind I particularly like this construct because it
00:27:33also expresses a respect for the other person's ability to choose as well as your own It reminds both parties of the choices they have eight i can't do it but x might be interested It is tempting to think that our help is uniquely invaluable but often people requesting
00:27:52something don't really care if we're the ones who help them as long as they get the help K krill the ceo of an ink a a and taylor and loft women's clothing retailers usedto have a terrible time saying no to social invitations As a result she would end
00:28:12up a networking event she had no interest in attending She would find herself going toe office parties and regretting it the moment she got there Then one day one of her mentors came to her and told her that she had to learn to jettison the people and things
00:28:27off her life that just didn't matter and that doing so would allow her to put one hundred percent of her energy into the things that had meaning for her That advice liberated her Now she is able to pick and choose with practice politely declining An invitation has become
00:28:44easy for her ke explains I say no very easily because i know what is important to me I only wish that i learned how to do that earlier in my life Saying though is its own leadership capability It is not just a peripheral skill As with any ability
00:29:03we start with limited experience We are novices at no Then we learn a couple of basic techniques We make mistakes we learn from them we develop more skills we keep practicing after a while we have a whole repertoire available at our disposal and in time we have gained
00:29:23mastery of a type of social art form We can handle almost any request from almost anybody with grace and dignity Tom freel the former ceo of hydrogen struggles once said to me we need to learn the slow yes and the quick no Chapter twelve Un commit When big
00:29:48by cutting your losses Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying know soon enough Josh billings by any estimation the concorde jet was a striking achievement in aeronautical engineering aboard this passenger plane you could fly from london to
00:30:11new york in his little is two hours fifty two minutes and fifty nine seconds that's less than half the time of a traditional plane making the concorde the fastest passenger plane in the world Unfortunately it was also an extraordinary financial failure Of course many great ideas innovations and
00:30:32products are But what made this one different was that it consistently lost money for more than four decades Yet each time it went over budget the french and british governments poured mohr and more money in they did this even knowing that the chance of recouping their continued investment
00:30:53let alone the original expenditures were minuscule With the plane's limited seating few orders coming in and the high cost of production it was clear that even with exaggerated estimates the project would never be profitable Indeed when the british cabinet papers were released under the thirty year rule they
00:31:12revealed that government ministers at the time knew the investment could not stand on normal economic grounds Why would intelligent capable british and french government officials continue To invest in what was clearly a losing proposition for so long one reason is a very common psychological phenomenon called sunk cost
00:31:34bias Sunk cost bias is the tendency to continue to invest time money or energy into something we know is a losing proposition simply because we have already incurred or sunk a cost that cannot be recouped But of course this can easily become a vicious cycle The more we
00:31:56invest the more determined we become to see it through and see our investment payoff The more we invest in something the harder it is to let go The sun costs for developing and building the concord where around one billion dollars Yet the more money the british and french
00:32:15governments poured into it the harder it wants to walk away Individuals are equally vulnerable to sunk cost bias It explains why will continue to sit through a terrible movie because we've already paid the price of a ticket It explains why we continue to pour money into a home
00:32:33renovation that never seems to near completion It explains why we will continue to wait for a bus or a subway train that never comes instead of hailing a cab and it explains why we invest in toxic relationships even when our efforts only make things worse Examples like this
00:32:52abound Consider the somewhat bizarre story of a man named henry gribbon who recently spent his entire life savings two thousand six hundred dollars in total at a carnival game tryingto win an oversize banana The more he spent the more determined he became tto win henry said you just
00:33:13get caught up in the hole I've got to win my money back but it didn't turn out that way The more he invested in tryingto win this utterly non essential item the harder it was for him to walk away Have you ever continued to invest time or effort
00:33:28in a non essential project Instead of cutting your losses Have you ever continued to pour money into an investment that wasn't panning out instead of walking away Have you ever kept plotting down a dead end Because you could not admit i shouldn't have pursued this direction in the
00:33:43first place ever being stuck in a cycle of throwing good money after bad a non essential ist can't break free of traps like these and essential Ist has the courage and confidence to admit his or her mistakes and un commit No matter the sunk cost A non essential
00:34:03ist asks why stop now when i've already invested so much in this project and essential ist asks if i weren't already invested in this project how much would i invest in it now and non essential ist thinks if i just keep trying i can make this work and
00:34:22essential ist thinks what else could i do with this time or money if i pulled the plug Now in all essential ist hates admitting to mistakes and essential ist is comfortable with cutting losses Sunk cost bias while all too common isn't the only non essential ist trap toe
00:34:41watch out for below are several other common traps and tips for how to extricate yourself politely gracefully and with minimal cost Avoiding commitment traps beware of the endowment effect a sense of ownership is a powerful thing As the saying goes nobody in the history of the world has
00:35:06washed their rental car This is because of something called the endowment effect Our tendency toe undervalue things that aren't ours and toe overvalue things because we already own them in one study demonstrating the power of the endowment effect the nobel prize winning researcher daniel kahneman and colleagues randomly
00:35:26gave coffee mugs toe only half the subjects in an experiment the first group was asked how much they would be willing to sell their mug for while the second group was asked what they would be willing to pay for it It turned out that the students who owned
00:35:41the mugs refused to sell for less than five dollars and twenty five cents while those without the cups were willing to pay only two dollars and twenty five cents to two dollars and seventy five cents The mere fact of ownership in other words caused the mug onus to
00:35:56value the objects more highly and made them less willing to part with them in your own life I'm sure you can Think of items that seem to be more valuable the moment you think about giving them away Think of a book on your shelf you haven't read in
00:36:10years or a kitchen appliance still sitting in the box or the sweater you got from aunt mildred but never war whether or not you get any use or enjoyment out of them subconsciously the very fact that they are yours makes you value them more highly than you would
00:36:26if they didn't belong to you Unfortunately we have this bias when it comes to nonessential activities as well as belongings The project that isn't getting anywhere at work seems that much more critical When were the team leader on it The commitment to volunteer at the local bake sale
00:36:44becomes harder to get out off When were the one who put the fundraiser together When we feel we own an activity it becomes harder to un commit Nonetheless here is a useful tip pretend you don't own it yet Tom stafford describes a simple antidote to the endowment effect
00:37:05Instead of asking how much dough i value this item we should ask if i did not own this item How much Would i pay to obtain it We can do the same for opportunities and commitment don't ask how will i feel if i miss out on this opportunity
00:37:20But rather if i did not have this opportunity how much would i be willing to sacrifice in order to obtain it Similarly we can ask if i wasn't already involved in this project how hard would i worked to get on it Get over the fear of waste How
00:37:38ox a professor of psychology at ohio state university who studies judgment in decision making i was puzzled by an enigma Why are adults so much more vulnerable to the sunk cost bias than young children The answer He believes a lifetime to exposure to the don't waste rule so
00:38:00that by the time we are adults we are trained to avoid appearing wasteful even to ourselves Abandoning a project that you've invested a lot in feels like you've wasted everything and waste is something we're told to avoid arc said To illustrate this he gave the following scenario to
00:38:18a group of participants assume that you have spent a hundred dollars on a ticket for a weekend ski trip to michigan Several weeks later you buy a fifty dollar ticket for a weekend ski trip to wisconsin You think you will enjoy the wisconsin ski trip mohr than the
00:38:34michigan ski trip As you are putting your newly purchased wisconsin ticket in your wallet you notice that the michigan ski trip on the wisconsin ski trip for the same weekend it's too late to sell or return either ticket You must choose which to use when asked which ski
00:38:53trip will you go on More than half said they would opt for the more expensive trip even though they would enjoy it less they're faulty reasoning was that using the cheaper ticket would be wasting more money than using the expensive ticket It's natural not tow want to let
00:39:11go of what we wasted on a bad choice but when we don't we doom ourselves to keep wasting even mohr instead admit failure to begin success I remember a friend who would never stop to ask for directions because he could never admit he was lost so we would
00:39:30waste time and energy driving around in circles getting nowhere the epitome of a non essential activity Only when we admit we have made a mistake and committing to something Can we make a mistake A part of our past when we remain in denial On the other hand we
00:39:47continue to circle pointlessly There should be no shame in admitting to a mistake After all we really are only admitting that we are now wiser than we once were Stop trying to force a fit in the movie tootsie dustin hoffman plays a struggling actor who was trying to
00:40:07get work The movie begins comically with a siri's of failed auditions at one he has told we need someone a little older at the next he is told we're looking for someone younger then at the next you're the wrong height toe which he responds i can be taller
00:40:26the executive responds No we're looking for somebody shorter desperate to make it work hoffman's character explains Look i don't have to be this tall see i'm wearing lifts i can be shorter for the executive also insists i know but we're looking for somebody different still persistent the would
00:40:46be actor pushes back again I can be different The point is that we often act like dustin hoffman's character by trying too hard to be something we're not whether in our personal or professional lives it is all too tempting to force something that is simply a mismatch The
00:41:04solution Get a neutral second opinion when we get so emotionally hung up on trying to force something that is not the right fit we can often benefit from a sounding board someone who is not emotionally involved in the situation and unaffected by the choice we make can give
00:41:23us the permission to stop forcing something that is clearly not working out I once wasted months of effort trying to force a project that just wasn't working out Looking back the more i put into it the worst things became but my irrational response was to invest still mohr
00:41:41i thought i could make this work i did not want to accept I have been wasting my effort I finally shared my frustration with a friend who had the advantage of being emotionally removed from the project someone who wasn't burdened with sunk costs and could evaluate my decisions
00:41:59with some perspective After listening to me he said you're not married to this and with those simple words i was liberated to stop investing in a non essential be aware of the status quo bias the tendency to continue doing something simply because we have always done it is
00:42:19sometimes called the status quo bias I once worked at a company that used an employee evaluation system that seemed to me so woefully outdated that i became curious about how long it had been in place As i searched for its creator in the company i found that nobody
00:42:35up to and including the longstanding head of hr knew of its origin more shocking Still in the ten years she had bean at the company nobody had once questioned the system it's all too easy to blindly accept and not bother to question commitments simply because they have already
00:42:53been established One cure for the status quo bias is borrowed from the world of accounting apply zero based budgeting Typically when accountants allocate a budget they use last year's budget as the bass line for the next year's projection but with zero based budgeting they use zero as the
00:43:14baseline In other words every item in the proposed budget must be justified from scratch While this takes more effort it has many advantages It efficiently allocates resources on the basis of needs rather than history It detects exaggerated budget requests It draws attention to obsolete operations and it encourages
00:43:38people to be clearer in their purpose and how their expenses aligned to that project You can apply zero based budgeting to your own endeavors instead of trying to budget Your time on the basis of existing commitments assumed that all bets are off All previous commitments are gone then
00:43:57begin from scratch asking which you would add today You could do this with everything from the financial obligations you have to project you're committed to even relationships you're in every use of time energy or resources has to justify itself anew if it no longer fit eliminated altogether Stop
00:44:20making casual commitments Some people's days are full to the brim with soft commitments they have taken on unintentionally through an off hand comment or casual conversation They had somewhere with someone you know the kind i mean you're chatting with your neighbour about her work on the p t
00:44:37a your colleague about a new initiative she is heading up or your friend about a new restaurant he wants to try and before you know it boom you're committed from now on pause before you speak It might sound obvious but pausing for just five seconds before offering your
00:44:55services khun greatly reduce the possibility of making a commitment You'll regret before the words that sounds great I'd love to fly out of your mouth Ask yourself is this essential if you've already made a casual commitment you're regretting find a nice way to worm your way out Simply
00:45:16apologize and tell the person but when you made the commitment you didn't fully realize what it would entail get over the fear of missing out We've seen ample evidence in this chapter suggesting that the majority of us are naturally very loss of us As a result one of
00:45:34the obstacles un committing ourselves from a present course is the fear of missing out on something great to fight this fear run a reverse pilot One of the ideas that has grown popular in business circles in recent years is prototyping building a prototype or large scale model allows
00:45:55companies toe test run an idea or product without making a huge investment upfront Exactly the same idea can be used in reverse to eliminate non essentials in a relatively low risk way by running what daniel shapiro a directorate linked in calls a reverse pilot in a reversed pilot
00:46:14you test whether removing an initiative or activity will have any negative consequences For example when an executive i work with took on a new senior role in the company He inherited a process his predecessor had gone to a huge effort to implement a huge highly visual report on
00:46:33a myriad of subjects produced for the other executives Each week it consumed enormous energy from his team and he hypothesized that it was not adding a great deal of value to the company So to test his hypothesis he ran a reverse pilot He simply stopped publishing the report
00:46:51on waited to see what the response would be What he found was that no one seemed to miss it After several weeks nobody had even mentioned the report As a result he concluded that the report was not essential to the business and could be eliminated A similar reverse
00:47:08pilot can be carried out in our social lives are their commitments You routinely make two customers colleagues friends or even family members that you have always assumed made a big difference to them but that in fact they might barely notice By quietly eliminating or at least scaling back
00:47:26an activity for a few days or weeks you might be able to assess whether it is really making a difference or whether no one really cares even using these Techniques it's true that un committing can be harder than simply not committing in the first place we feel guilty
00:47:44saying no to something or someone we have already committed to and let's face it No one likes going back on their word yet learning how to do so in ways that were gonna you respect for your courage focus and discipline is crucial to becoming an essential ist hey
00:48:02guys this is tim again Just a few more things before you take off number one this is five bullet friday Do you want to get a short email from me Would you enjoy getting a short email for me every friday so that provides a little morsel of fun
00:48:17before the weekend and fiber fridays avery short email or i share the coolest things i've found or that i've been pondering over the week that could include favorite new albums that have discovered it could include gizmos and gadgets and all sorts of weird shit that i've somehow dug
00:48:32up in the world of the esoteric as i do it could include favorite articles that i have read and that i've shared with my close friends for instance and it's very short it's just a little tiny bite goodness before you head off for the weekend So if you
00:48:50want to receive that check it out Just get a four hour work week dot com that's four hour work week dot com all spelled out and just drop in your e mail and you will get the very next one And if you sign up i hope you enjoy
00:49:02it This episode is brought to you by four sig matic You might remember four stigmatic for their mushroom coffee which was created by those clever finished founders And when i first mentioned that coffee on this podcast products sold out in less than a week like you like a
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00:49:33struggled with insomnia for decades I have a largely fixed that but still shutting off my monkey brain has never been easy still isn't easy very often and i found ratio which have been fascinated by for a few years now has been very very effective and calm They're old
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00:50:38copy that they put in the reed so i'm going to read it and i'll give you my take quote a warning for those in the experimental mindset gracias strong And bitter inferences like any great medicine So if the bitterness is too much i recommend trying it with honey
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00:51:07who long Sure cool which means you're not able to eat bitterness bitter is in many cases an indication of things that help liver detoxification and so on I'm not saying that's the case here but i've tested this racial lecture on family members on friends Everybody has liked it
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