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In honor of my debut book, which I just found out is a number one New York Times best seller because of each and every single one of you think like a monk, I'd love for you to join me for 20 days of meditation starting September 19th through October 8th. We'll go through a guided meditation every day, along with a special reading from my new book. Be sure to grab a copy of Think Like a Monk so you can read along with me and download my meditation workbook.
Absolutely free at things like a monk book dot com. To get the most out of the meditations. Join me every day on either Facebook or Instagram live starting September 19th at nine thirty a.m. Pacific, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. in the U.K. and 10 p.m. in India. 20 days, 20 meditations for 20 minutes per day. We're training our minds for peace and purpose one day at a time. Let's meditate and read together. I can't wait for you to join in.
Hey, everyone, welcome back to you on purpose, the number one health podcast in the world, thanks to each and every single one of you for coming back every week to listen, learn and to grow. And I know that you want to grow your mind in ways that you haven't even understood yet. Right. It's all about expanding, extending, asking questions that we've never thought of being introduced and exposed to people that we've never, ever heard of.
But today's guest that I think you may have seen his book, you may even have read it. And if you haven't, you are going to want to read it straight after this interview. He's the author of the New York Times bestseller Essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and the founder of McKewon Inc, a company with a mission to teach essentialism to millions of people around the world. Their clients include Adobe, Apple, Ebbie, Cisco, Google, Facebook, Pixar, Salesforce, Twitter and Yahoo!
Now, McCuen is an accomplished public speaker and has spoken to hundreds of audiences around the world, including Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China. And highlights include speaking at South by Southwest, interviewing Al Gore at the annual conference of the World Economic Forum. Greg's writing has appeared and been covered by fast company Fortune, Huff Post and Inc magazine and Harvard Business Review. And he's also been interviewed on numerous TV and radio shows, including NBC, NPR and NBC.
In 2012, he was named a young global leader by the World Economic Forum. And today I'm excited to talk to him because I was just saying to them before we started the interview, I love this book the moment I was exposed to and experienced it. And I had so many leaders, whether it's from leaders of small community centers, true to corporate executives that have loved his work and spoken highly of it. I'm so excited to share with you today Greg's insight and wisdom.
Greg, thank you for being here. It's so great to be with you. Thanks, Jay. And we've been bonding behind the scenes. Just everyone knows before we started this interview were bonding over our Britishness.
And and we were both happy to learn that we're actually grew up, were born not so far away from each other. And so you may see some British references being thrown in now and again or some other. But, Greg, I want to start off by talking a bit about you and learning about you, learning more about you, because I think that the person behind the perspective is always more fascinating. And perspective that you have is fascinating anyway. And I'm obviously drawn to it because of essentialism and less than living as a monk for three years.
And I'm I love playing around with the thought of essentialism in the pursuit of less. But I wanted to start by asking you, what do you believe that you have continuously pursued less of in your life since since the beginning?
Yeah, OK, less what have I pursued less of? I mean, I want to become more and more of who I really am, less and less of who I really am not and particularly around like my sense of mission in life. So I mean, this journey, you can I mean, every journey starts at different places when you're talking about your life. But one place it started for me was was 20 years ago where I was staring at a piece of paper in my hands with all these scribbles, all these answers to a question.
The question was, what would you do if you could do anything? And as I was looking at my answers, I suddenly realized not what I had written down on the list, but what I hadn't written down on the list. I noticed law school isn't on my list, which was inconvenient because I was at the time at law school, you know, in the UK and. Well, what do you do in this moment? And of you want to just carry on doing what you've done before, you put the idea back.
But for me, there was no really putting it back in the original packaging. The thought of being able to just do what I really wanted, which was to teach and to write. It was so was so liberating, felt so naming that the idea of trying to, you know, force it. But then I thought, well, I still need to call my parents. So I call the 15 digit number back to England and my mother answers.
Fortunately, she listens for a while and she says, I think you better talk to Dad. So now he comes on the phone. Now, what do you say after all this time, all this money, all this effort, you know, to get you on this journey and now I'm calling I was in the United States at the time, so I'm calling from halfway around the world with this harebrained idea. I'm going to quit law school. And he listened, which was not entirely like him.
But then he said he said this.
He said actually pull the line straight out of Hamlet. He said, son, what we've always told you is says. To thine own self be true? That's amazing. Yeah, he never said that to me in his whole life. He just he just claimed that he had in this moment where he said my whole life, he said, go to law school. I mean, I wasn't there by accident. I mean, so so he said the right thing at the right time.
And he added this. He said, look. He said he said, choose what is right, let the consequences follow the children's him that phrase and and and that was what you might as well have said, is, look, choose what is essential. Let the consequences follow, because in that little stories of the seed of everything that's gone on since in my life and and really from that point on, it was about be careful not to let non-essential pursuits, even good pursuits, keep you from what it is you're really here to do.
So such a pathetically short period of time left for all of us. You don't have time for doing what other people are doing just because they're doing it or or just following opportunities just because they're good before you instead trying to find that particular message, that particular path that I'm supposed to be on. Yeah, absolutely. I love that. Tell me what you think would have happened had your parents had a different response. And like you said, like most parents, your parents had almost paved out a particular path for you.
And I've always joked about that in my own life to where I could either grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer or a failure. And those were my three options.
Yeah. And that's that's because that's what I was exposed to. And seriously, I didn't even know there was another career that existed. If I'm completely honest, it sounds crazy, but I literally mean it like finite boxes and options in my mind. So you had that to like a lot of people listening or watching this would also feel the same way, like Jay Gregg. I get it. That's that's how I feel. But what if you called your parents and you think your parents had a different view, let's say your parents were not that they were encouraging, but that they were discouraging, not that they quoted Hamlet or gave you, like, the perfect advice they'd never given you.
But let's say they just said, well, you're going to fail or whatever it was. How do you think that would have affected you? And I know it's a completely hypothetical situation, but how do you think that would have affected you in knowing what you knew? You know you know, now, how would you guide people to pursue this pursuit despite having a positive or negative reaction from people? Yeah, I think that's I think that's really valid.
I mean, I think what would have happened is probably what I was already doing, which was a bit of a straddled strategy all day. I'm I'm there going to my classes, trying to do well those. But my real passion is this other kind of teaching and writing in leadership and development. And so I'm sort of spending all night doing that. And so what you get if you do that is really making ideal progress in the path. And so you just keep on straddling it and going along.
I think if they had come down hard on, look, just get back here, get back study and then let's talk about it, maybe they would have been able to shift that back to a position of straddle. I don't think it was very sustainable for me to have to be able to just maintain that that duality for too long. It's too uncomfortable for me. But I think for other people listening to this, watching this, it's about trying to discern the difference between the part you're supposed to be on and the parallel path you're on right now with people are completely misaligned.
I think they can feel that. But sometimes they can be conned a little bit more by. Well, I'm it's good. I'm doing is good. I've got a job. And in these times I'm just grateful for that. And and I'm not suggesting that people just as bluntly and boldly maybe as I did to quit law school and go off, but at least become aware of the two paths to recognize that the path you're on, even if it's a good one, a parallel never meets the essential path.
And so it's it's really to to create enough space that you can feel that clarity of voice inside saying this is the way, not the one you're on. This is the way walking this path. And I think if you get enough internal clarity it and actually I mean, first of all, it allows you to have a conversation without internal clarity. I couldn't even call my parents. Right. And and then hopefully that clarity can build to the point that you have a lot of courage, you know, essentialism.
The book I ended up writing in. The work I focus on now isn't about just saying no. It's about saying yes to what matters most. And so it's getting enough clarity around what matters most to you, that you have strength to be able to say no to other things, to be able to at first just have a conversation, maybe a negotiation if necessary, perhaps a disagreement, right. Where you just go, OK, look, you want this, but I.
Well, this is the right path, so I'm going to do it. I mean, you must have had that in choosing this completely different life that you've had.
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It's really self affirming because I feel like so much of what you're saying is what I feel I've had to do too. So I'm totally on board with everything you're saying, because I think that everyone in their own way goes through that or comes to that point of feeling like, you know, this isn't the path for me and this isn't what matters most to me. Tell me what you think made the difference, because like you said, and I appreciate you saying this, not everyone has to drop out and jump straight into something.
And at the same time, people may struggle for a bit longer, which seems like a good, sensible thing to do until you feel ready. What are the and I know there's no way of putting a number on this, but if you have to say there are three things that you've done since quitting that you think have led to you building such a successful company, doing what you love to do and what matters to you, what are three things that you've done differently?
Because there are so many people that either fear taking the step or they've taken the step and now they're in that no man's land. And that uncertainty is just scary. And I'm sure you felt that I have to. But what are the three things that you've done right, that you think people can learn from that if they're about to make the jump like you did, or they're inconveniently in that space because they've lost their job due to circumstances or they're there anyway?
What are three things that you think you got? Right. I think the first thing that really made a difference was was seeking out the people who had been really successful, highly successful in this. So I made a very deliberate point to try and knock on the doors to call up people. I mean, this is all pre the Internet. But I was definitely, you know, I mean, semi stalking people, right. Going, OK, where are they?
How can I get there? No, let people know. This is what I'm trying to do now. I just started. So that was like one two, which was so closely connected to it. I don't know how I would differentiate them in some ways, but I just said, OK, right is right. If I want to write and teach, I need to start writing right now. And I didn't have the way to publish at that point, but I started writing immediately.
I mean, I literally never went back to study law. I never went back onto the campus. I went back to England. But I just was immediately reading and writing. And so I realized, well, anyone can write a book. You can say, hey, I'm writing a book. And I would say that to be why I'm writing this book and I would love to interview you. And so that was one of the ways I. Access to many bestselling authors and people, I was reading their books fascinated by them, and then getting to hear the story behind the story and learn how did they do it, how did they get their start?
So I wasn't trying to do this on my own by any means. This is definitely a stand on the shoulders of Giants strategy. And and so I think if I was to divide those two, it's one. It's really the interviewing of the experts, you know, learning, figuring out the best of what others already have figured out. And the second is to start immediately doing the thing you want to do.
One of the principles I love the most, I didn't have words for it back then, but is just the courage to be rubbish to every single writer.
The first thing they write is rubbish, and it doesn't matter. Even if they're quite talented writer at this point, they're going to start and what they first write will not be the end result. And so you just have to you know, what principle I love is is to write two rubbish pages a day. And and still now I'm working on a new book right now, a deadline pressing upon me. And even today, it's just right. Right.
You're next to rubbish pages and that's what you can do. And it get less rubbish over time. And, you know, if you're willing to do it iteratively eventually it's not bad. And then hopefully it becomes good. And if you're if you're patient, it can become decent and then great. And you just get to keep going. Improving, improving. So I don't know. I don't think that's three. But I'll give you those are the couple of things that I feel like made a difference.
Yeah, no, they're great. I actually think there's some really great insight in there, especially that one around start doing the thing you actually want to do. I think that's the one that the other is important and completely great, too. And I think I would probably repeat some of them even when I share mine. But that specific one really hits a nerve because I think we're always waiting for someone to give us the official permission to do the thing we actually want to do, whether it's a publisher or a agent or a boss or an executive or whatever it may be.
I feel like we have this. I guess it comes from school of always having to ask permission and we almost get it entwined in our head that we can't start doing it until someone says we can.
I think that's totally true. And and that's I mean, for me, with the law school, particularly the quitting moment, logically, I'd always known you don't have to do this, but emotionally, it didn't feel possible until I'm five thousand miles away. And somebody says in passing, oh, if you do decide to stay in America, you should do whatever. And that assumption that was possible. Plus with the space and distance plus I suppose the blue sky above helps to write that you're going, wow, this is this could be a good life.
Suddenly it went from being just a logical peripheral thing to like something that you go, no, this is it. This is for real. You can do this different thing. And so I completely agree that a lot of people just think it's not realistic. I can't I'm not the sort of person who's a writer. I'm not the sort of person who's an entrepreneur. I'm not the sort of person, whatever the thing is that people want really inside to do.
And and I'll tell you another thing about this is that I think people often because that deeper, clearer yes. For them is so familiar. It's like they don't know it's you know, they don't know they have a unique thing going on. They've always just thought about that type of work. I had always, always thought about teaching and writing since I was like five years old, literally. But it was just with you. It took years until I was like, oh, that.
But not everybody has that, not everybody wants that all the time, they want something completely different. Now I have children. It's been like a real priority is trying to help them to look and discover the things they already naturally curious about, naturally pulled to, interested in and saying, look, I I'll say often to them, you know, when you fix them, one of my sons, my son had four children, but one son, he can fix almost anything.
He's only 40 now. And I always point out to him, you know, your natural curiosity for that is so much greater than mine. Like, I don't care about it like you do. You're fascinated. This is a strength for you. This is something just pay attention to it. And this grew into his language. I want to be an engineer or this grew into now he wants to be a biotech engineer focused in medical devices. Well, my point is sharing that is that he's 14 and he has that kind of level of clarity.
And the reason isn't it is just because it's sort of been helpfully pointed out a little along the way that what's in you is unique. Yeah, the trust, that uniqueness that other people don't actually have the same inclinations that you do.
Yeah, I love that. And I'm so excited to see how children kind of given that early on, kind of blossom and reach them. I'm really excited to see where that goes. And yeah, the fact that you're getting to share that with your kids must be so rewarding. Let's let's dive into the next dive into the day, because you spoke about it there. Like, I feel like so many people want to do so much in their day and they want to get so much achieved in a day.
How how do you go about guiding leaders and thinkers and even yourself into creating a productive day and setting yourself up for a great day? Because it's almost like what you said, like you have the right to have the courage to write to rubbish pages, start doing what you're doing. And I find, like whether someone's working at a company or an entrepreneur or wherever they are. I feel like mastering your day is such a big part of Mastering Life and all the rest of it.
And it's sometimes we win or lose on the day. So give us some insight as to how we can go about thinking, making our days the best we possibly can.
Yeah, I mean, I think the first thing is to recognize this is I'm not the first to say it, but the people overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a decade.
Right. So you when when I wake up in the morning, I do tend to feel there's way too much I can do. I got too much. And so even after years of working as an essentialist, I still feel that when I wake up in the morning, it's just way too many things to do today.
Of course there is. I mean, it'd be really, really odd if there wasn't, you know, like, no, I don't have more than I can fit into one day, even though I've got hopefully decades left to live. Cos there's more than you can do today. Vastly more so. So you can do one or two things. At that point you can say, well I'll just sort of jump into today reactively, pick up the phone that's sitting right there.
I did a thing with Steve Harvey a while ago and he had me work with someone in his audience and and we went to her house. I asked her, where do you put your phone? And we're looking walking around at home. And she said, oh, yeah, I just keep it there.
And she pointed under her pillow. Yeah. And I and I'm like, what literally you sleep with under your pillow? And she said, Yeah. So she wakes up every time someone texts or emails all night. Wakes up, responds, puts it under a pillow again, and when I when I've shared that story with a few people, normally there is an audible thing in the room. If I was crazy and then slowly I realized that that's a bit self-righteous of us all, because for a lot of people, yeah, they don't have it under their pillow, but they just only have 12 inches from their from their ear.
So it's not really that different. But said for me the question is, what do you do with that feeling? Do you just react to that feeling and get to the phone and get into the inbox and all of that distraction? Or do you do something else? And it's got to be a choice you make every day becomes a habit. So you have to think about it. But, you know, definitely a routine. But one of the things for me is I definitely want to be reading wisdom literature for me scriptures before I'm checking any email, before I'm doing any of that stuff.
So I want to try and get. At least a bit centered. I want to try and give us a sense of perfection about this, but but at least a bit so that I'm not just a function of all those of the reactive voices and even the reactive voices inside of me. The second thing for me is that I, I do have long term goals and I break those down weekly projects. OK, here, here are the projects. I feel really excited about doing so.
One of them is the book, as I've already mentioned to me, the second is the podcast. And so and so there's not much more beyond that. There's a lot more time professionally for me beyond that. So it's about getting the first work cycles done on those. First, I try and do the mean. It's nothing, nothing religious, but 90 minute cycles try and take a break in between. You get maybe maybe three good work cycles in the morning.
And if I can really use those, well, then then I feel like I'm going to make some good progress on the projects that matter. Push other things to the afternoon. One of the breaks, I'll go on a walk with my wife Anna five o'clock at night. I have an absolute for real. Really do it. Leave the office deadline. Yeah. Yeah. That is that's like that is really that is like religious so to speak. And the way I do it helps is that I announce it like a town crier to the, to the family.
So I walk out and I'll say it is four fifty nine. I'll do it loud so everybody can hear five on one today. And it makes it fun and it's silly, but it means I'm accountable immediately to that time. Yes. Otherwise it's five thirty six and if it's six why not seven. If it's seven or eight. And I go goes you know people just work especially in crowded times, there's no natural boundaries so work can just consume everything.
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Yeah, I love that. Those those are all great examples. And I, by the way, don't find that silly at all. I love that. I think that I think I might have to start doing that, too. I really I love rules and rituals and almost like drama added to life in that sort of drama, like sort of playing a role or a character that helps everyone kind of laugh and settle the mood and helps people understand. One of the ones that in favor from me and looking at my day is I always ask myself for the star of the week, what's going to make me feel like I've had a fulfilling week at the start doing what I need to do or be in order to feel like I've had a good day, because I realized that there have been days in my life where I've done everything that was on my to do list.
And I felt really dissatisfied because I didn't do the one thing. That was the one thing that was going to make me feel really fulfilled and accomplished and successful and whatever it is that you want to feel and I find like but when I've done that one thing, even if everything else kind of faded away and didn't quite happen, you still feel really, really great. And so for a long time now, I've always tried to approach my week by asking myself at the start of the week, what's going to make me feel that this week was a good week and what's going to make me feel that this day was a good day?
Because I think so much is in how we feel. And I never wanted to live in a world where I did everything on my to do list, but felt dissatisfied, which I just love that.
I mean, that's like essentialism really is about precisely what you just said. It's not about doing more things, it's about doing more of the right things. And in that way, in fact, it is quite distinguished between all of the productivity thinking. And that's all on one side. And then sort of essentialism somewhat alone on its own over here, because it's saying it's saying, look, you could look I mean, the most important things might not be showing up on your to do list at all.
Right now, almost certainly not showing up in your inbox right now. And so if those are your directional documents or your sources for decision making, then then certainly you could get not just the end of the week or the month, but the end of your life. I mean, this is literally done. It's not like we're not making this stuff up. Right. Like people get to the end of their lives and they go, oh, right.
I didn't do this stuff. I was meant to do like that. That's for real. In fact. I could maybe argue it's perhaps more normal than not people get there and then they go, oh, this was all just a distraction. This was all, you know, I then I missed what mattered. And and that's like, you know, that's a scenario I think most people do not want to find themselves in that situation. So but no one meant to be there.
They just ended up there by default. So I have a question for you. You gave you look a little different. OK. I just I was thinking about this coming into this conversation, right, like. Right now. I thought the people listening to this would learn more by rather than just talking about essentialism, like actually trying to implement it, like trying to have a conversation really about it for real. Tell me something in your life that is really, really important.
Essential, highly important that you are currently under investing in. First thought I was going to ask you the same question. Glad to it it.
First show that I'm under investing in that I'm first of all, it's hard for me.
I already had it. No, I haven't had like I'm like, I don't know, like a I feel very aligned so it's hard. But I'd say the first person says my mom. All right, so my mom like parents, you know, like yeah. Obviously deeply really important under investigation for sure. Yeah. OK, so good.
You've got a good. That's a good answer is clear answer. Let's discuss it for a second a little more. OK. Why are they so important to you. I feel like my parents specifically have done a great like great attitude of giving me freedom and my sister freedom to become who we want it to be at a certain point and also remain so independent where they've never really asked anything of me. And that only makes me want to love them more.
So that's why it's so important. Why they're so important to me is because they've given me a great foundation but never really asked for anything back. And I feel that that's a very special relationship.
You've just said two things. One is that they they blessed your life by investing in you because in a sense, a lot of parents do that. Right. They've given up their life to help you. But also they're not said, well, therefore, you owe us something. Yeah, of course we do owe our parents lots, but that they're not requiring that of you. They're just saying we really meant this for you. We did not do this.
So you owe us we didn't do this with strings attached. So they blessed you. It's like doubly blessed. Yeah. Which makes me feel even worse because that's not the goal.
I'm just saying that, you know, it's it's a beautiful feeling to to feel that double blessing because you're like, what are they? Did they deserve a lot?
Yeah. You won the parenting the parent lottery. Yeah.
In my in my in my. I would say that I've always believed that in every area of my life. So I've never looked at anything I ever received as a deficiency or as a superiority to anyone else.
That was interesting. What you just distinguish, because what I think you just said is, no, I didn't get like I'm not saying my parents were the perfect parents. I'm just grateful for all they did give. That makes up for anything you could become critical over and see. Oh, well, that wasn't quite. What would that person have this advantage? You're not saying I had all the advantages, but genuinely grateful. OK, so when you say you're under investing, what are you currently investing and what do you wish you were investing?
Like, what's the Delta currently investing? What are you currently doing? I currently obviously because I live far away from that.
My parents are back in London, so it's phone calls and messages and updates and things like that. So it's very much based on face time and and all the rest of it. And I have been we decided we'd go on one family holiday. Yeah. So I'm always making sure that, like, earlier this year we were in India together and then last year we went to Greece together. And so I've always made an attempt to try and do that.
So that's currently investing. Yes. And I although I think that that's fine and I'm happy about that. I think it's more and I think about this a lot myself, too. It's like people people don't want your time. They want your energy. And and I feel like my mum would just love more updates from me on a daily, weekly basis on anything that's happening in my life.
Like she would just love to know and be in the know and and get that more, I guess that more spontaneous connection of a feeling. How much do you actually in terms of like minutes in the last week ish or on average, do you are you actually talking to your mother? It's an hour, a week. And what would success look like? Not perfect, but like you would feel that you no longer said it was being under invested in.
I think the hour a week would remain the same, but I think it would become a couple of times a message a day or a couple of times a day where it didn't have to be time.
It was just the thought and it wasn't just the thought of. It's not just like an arbitrary message of, oh, I miss you, I love you. I think sharing something meaningful in my day that I think with whether it's something I ate or whether it's something I did or someone I spoke to or whatever, it is, something that makes her think that I'm thinking, yeah, well, I mean, you just said it. It's thinking of her enough to share.
To share. A detail that brings your life to life. Absolutely. That's it. So I mean, that automatically to me sounds really doable.
Potentially any new thing is still in inevitable. But but it feels like if you say, OK, I'm going to well, I'll put it to you, actually. You've written a lot about how to design thoughtfully and create mindsets and lifestyle. That really is that helps you live a higher contribution. We just walk me through using your process, how you can do this now. What do you do to make this an actual part of your yesterday week going forward?
My favorite habit formation structure, which has been spoken about in psychology, which is called anchoring, I really believe that any new habit you want to create needs to be anchored around a stable habit. So I think I always eat at the same time every day. It's something that's very regulated in my life and I pretty much never miss meal times. And so I think doing it around meal time, whether it's before or after breakfast or before or after lunch or and it would have to be before off after lunch.
Dinner wouldn't count because England is already a single it doesn't work. And that's part of I think that's been when I really think about it, I'm sharing it very honestly and openly. That's been my hardest thing, that usually by the time I'm free and open and I have time in my diary, it's midnight in the U.K. So I understand that, you know, we live in and the UK is eight hours ahead. And so that's usually been the case.
So it would have to be before or after lunch or before or after breakfast. I think those would be the best way for me to input it in the simplest way. Yeah, those things are never going to move. That's why I've chosen them. Yeah. Like that. And and because of the eight hours, even you thinking about your mother first thing in the day is actually already halfway through her day. Yeah. So you think you're doing well.
It's lunchtime. I'm thinking about my mother, I'm sending a message, I'm calling. It is like she's waited all day for this. Yeah, exactly. And I and I messager when I go to sleep I go to sleep around, say nine, ten, and my mom waits for around six a.m. She gets a first thought first thing in the morning. And so I do messaggero at that time, but I can't get into a full conversation at that time or I can't get into a real exchange at that time because I'm trying to sleep early.
So it sounds like it's it sounds like it's a breakfast habit. Yes. And it's is it before or after. I think about that. Is it like before you get anything to eat you do it. Is it, is it afterwards. Like afterwards you're probably raring to go on the next thing. Yeah.
So maybe it's, maybe it's like it's a I don't know, it was like while you're preparing it's always like while you're preparing.
Yeah. You could, you could, you could do like a what's that. Was that to the apple. You know what, you just record the record, the message that it sends out. Come on, Marco Polo I Marco Polo.
Yeah. I don't know. I don't, I don't know. Marco Polo is perfect for what you're describing because.
Because she would get to see you. So so Markopoulos made its whole rise because it's asynchronous communication. So you get to leave your video message. They can pick it up whenever they want and they can send one and you can watch it at the same time. Sometimes that will sync up, but it it will free you from OK, what time is it there. What time am I doing it. But she'll get the energy. You're talking about more than a little text and you can still do it while you're doing something else, specially if you have your phone on the stand or whatever.
Hey, this is what I'm thinking about this morning. This was my day. I'm thinking of you. You can do this thing in like one minute. Two minutes. I love this, I just love this little idea for you, right? I know it's a small tweak, but those are the kinds of things I'll tell you something, I read this recently that when you leave home to go to when you're done with high school, you go to university.
You have had ninety four percent of the face time you're going to have with your parents. That's crazy, right? It's crazy for me. My eldest now is is 17 and so I'm staring at that in the face that not very long from now she's going to be out.
You see, I know this is 17. Yeah. Yeah.
I can't I can't believe you're pregnant now. I'm just I can't listen to anything else you have to say. It's amazing. Yeah. Yes, I my my youngest is 11. Oldest is 17. And it surprises me to amazes me too. But but it's been this it's been this great adventure and we just enjoyed we we got some great advice years ago that said kids were they said you're in the golden years, which meant like your children are well out of their out of nappies and they're not driving yet.
That's what they said. And we're like, yeah. And they said, you've got to emphasize you to really make memories right now. And we just seriously took that for real. We're like, yeah, OK, we don't have to be born twice. We will do it. And so now what we have is that they're all almost all teenagers and the culture's just know. I didn't know it was going to be like this. I didn't know it was going to be as fun as this.
I didn't know it was going to be just that. We all became really great friends. I didn't know it was going to be like that. I thought it was going to be rougher than that. Worse than that. Yeah. You've reminded me of a website. I talked about it recently in a video. It's a website called See Your Folks. I don't know if you've seen that.
I haven't. And so I brought out here, I can explain it to people said could see your folks dot com. And what you do is you say, where do your parents live? So you enter the place. They live in London. United Kingdom says on average, how many times do you see your parents? A year or so before the pandemic?
I probably used to see my parents, I'd say six times a year in terms of I'm sorry, I should actually give the number of days. So I see them six times a year for probably a week. So that's forty two times per year. Yeah. How old are my parents? Let's let's save them there.
Well, right now I'm getting the idea. Now I'm getting the idea say that you know, I'm just sorry.
I was just getting the idea of what you're saying. So you're estimating how long and how many times you are likely to see them in the rest of your life.
You type them, you type in where you live. On average, how many times do you see them? How old is your mom? How is that? And you can show my results and it tells you how many more times you see your parents. And actually, I would recommend that you just you don't write in day, you write in time. So on average, how many times do I see my friend? Six times per year. And if I put it in just to be fully honest and to really get awakening, I'll see my parents sixty six more times.
That's the calculation that it does. It is crazy, isn't it?
And when you think of sixty six, whether you think that number is high or low income, most of us, you go, wow, I only saw them sixty six more times. Like know, hopefully to me that doesn't sound like a long time at all. No. It definitely makes you aware of how many times seeing as we see our partners every day or whatever it may be so and it's so finite when you when you start.
One of the things about our. One of the reasons I think we take them for granted is because the every waking moment of our lives, they've been there. Yeah. And of course, there'll be some people that tuning into this saying, yeah, actually my parents died when I was young or I didn't know one of them or I was single and I never even knew. I mean, like and they'll feel the absence so much clearer. And I suppose either of us do because our parents are still alive.
We we can at any time or we can call them. We can pick a phone. We can we could have this relationship. So you just think I will always be there. But of course, it just isn't like that, is it? You know, covid is one illustration for all of us. A little bit of a global wake up call to to think about this. But but for me, one of the things that made me changes is I just started calling my family every week.
We do a video call once a week on a Sunday morning, and we've done it every day now. It's only been about a year, maybe a year and a half now. And we do it every week now. And it's just so much better because, again, it's so easy for time to pass.
And basically you stop knowing about them. You think you know them because when you see them, you've got lots of memories together and you've got lots of feeling with each other. But really, you do not know how they're weak when you don't know how, when the year when you know, sometimes. And so you've got to build in these practices. Otherwise all the other forces, all the good things. I mean, for goodness sake, what what is keeping you from calling your your mother each day?
What's all good things. Yeah, lots of good things as you try to you make this impact in the world. You, you know, teaching people enlightening people is it's it's your your mission out there that's noble and worthy. So it's not like you, it's not like so to speak, you're being tricked by something bad or vile. But this is how I've noticed. This is sort of why I think essentialism has a Nesher need at all is because it's the 90 percent and above important things that need to be in priority position.
Otherwise we'll just get caught in the middle or by total trivia. But but even just in the middle, there's lots of good things we're doing. And then and then we find ourselves years go by. Oh I didn't do. Yeah. Didn't do that stuff. And that is of course what what regrets are made of. OK, so I have an idea for you gone. OK, so here's what I got when I did. One idea is that like you do you have to do this for like the next I don't know, you tell me the time, even for a week, whatever.
Then you come on my podcast, we talk about it again. OK, how do you do how do you feel about it? It's easy. Yeah. Yeah, I can totally do it. I it's. Yeah no I think that's beautiful and I love seeing essentialism in in action for sure. I think it's the, I genuinely think it's the only way to live because it's the only way, it's well it's not the only way to live, it's the only way to live a life that you're fulfilled by.
And and so you either have to make the choice in the adapting now or you have the challenges and the regrets later. Yeah. And unfortunately, when it gets to that side, that's where you feel helpless and that you can't do anything about it.
Yeah, it's the universality of trade offs is that every time you say yes, you are saying no to something. So every time you say yes to a 30 or 40 or 60 percent important activity, you're saying no to something in the top 90 percent. And that's, I think, the big shift of mindset that's necessary, because otherwise people just look at something and say, well, is it good? Yes. As if as if life is a is a closet universally large so you can fit in any number of items of clothing and it will never fill up.
But as we all know from our actual closets, if you just keep on saying yes to good stuff soon, it's packed to full. There's no there's no room for anything new. You can't find anything that you actually want. And so you have this very unsatisfying, overloaded experience. And I think that. You know, that's the metaphor for life, is that we our lives are very full of stuff, but they're not satisfying because the most important things either aren't in there or we can't find them.
We can't enjoy them. And so essentialism, I think, is a really achievable life bit by bit. Just like getting your closet organized is doable, but you have to learn some new habits and new adjustments. Yeah, no, I completely agree. And I think the only time that I feel saying yes to a lot of stuff was useful when I wasn't sure and not all of it was meaningful.
The only time I think I felt the other way is when I've tried starting something new. So what I'm what I've started something new. That was the only time where I've said yes to so much because you don't know what's going to work, you don't know what's going to work, and so you don't know what's most important. And that's the only time. And then as that builds and grows, you have to get into essentialism straight away, because otherwise that's when you end up saying yes to too many things that don't matter.
But in the beginning, you are going to, like you said, writing, having the courage to write to rubbish pages a day. You've got to have that courage in the beginning to be like, I don't know what's essential because this is new to me. Yes. As you figure it out, you have to get into essentialism again. That's the only time I can think in my life. Right. And maybe there's a hidden trait of essentialism in that.
Yes, I think so. Very much so. So there are three practices of essentialism, right? The first is to explore. The second is to eliminate and the third is to execute. Explore is what you are saying. So it's to create enough space essentialists. Paradoxically, they try more things than a non essentialist that they're in the more willing to explore. They're just not committing deeply to every single path as they try these things out there. Then quickly moving onto the elimination, whereas not essentialist will often just commit to a bunch of stuff like law school.
That's what I'm doing. And they get instant cost by us. They're going more and more down this path. They're not actually eliminating and pruning, and I suppose because they chose it so early, they just get committed to something that that they don't maybe maybe it's a higher risk in their mind to be able to shift. If you've got a bunch of things, you're trying a bunch of things. At first you're willing to cut and kill, but you have to I mean, to decide comes from across the Latin, which means to cut or kill so you don't decide unless you're getting rid of something.
And and I think that, you know, in an entrepreneurial time or when someone starting something. Yes. Try a bunch of different things. But also get the second half of innovation, do the elimination, otherwise you have these sort of zombie projects where you're still doing many, many too many projects, many different directions, and always hoping that each one of them will live. You've got to just learn as fast as possible which things are not the right path for you.
Get rid of them so you can invest in the few that you think really are the right ones for you. Yeah, absolutely. You start all of these things and then you have all these open things that are not finished, no completion, no no satisfaction, no satisfaction and no reflection on whether that was useful or not. I think that that's the part that I find so great about essentialism is you're only able you have to have that reflection point on is this useful?
What was useful about it? Is it going through or is it being eliminated? Because if you don't do that, which we sometimes just leave doors wide open in our lives and we never reflect on whether we wanted to close them or why they didn't close or why they stayed open, and not knowing all of that just leads to far more confusion. Or the other extreme, which is what you said is you pick one thing because you think that simple.
And that's this is what I love about essentialism and what I was thinking about with my team before we did this podcast. And I was thinking out loud with them about this, that simplicity is not an external thing. Right? Like if you were 16 or whatever age when you knew exactly what you wanted to do, adults would have said, that person is thoughtful, they're organized, they have a plan, and they're like, you would say, simplicity and a good sense, like they know what's essential in life.
Like that's what I would have said. And if you were 16 and you said, you know, I don't really know what I want to be when I grow up or kind of maybe want to write or maybe want parents or friends, parents that don't hang out with that kid like that. Yes. And and while there's some truth in both, there is some truth in both. The overarching understanding is just that. It's actually just because externally your life is figured out, it doesn't mean that you're living in essentialism or simplicity.
Yeah, that's so true. Totally true. Right. And sometimes I've said there's like two kinds of people in the world. There are people who are lost and there are people who know they are lost. And to be in the second category, whether you admit it in the morning, you wake up way too much, too. I'm not sure which things to do. There's too many things. If you admit it and face it, then you can start doing something about it.
Like when I used to go driving with my dad, he was famous in a family, you know. Oh, yes. I just feel this is the right direction when we're lost. You know, I learned to distrust that that expression. Oh, I know. I feel it's down here. You don't feel it. You don't know. It just lost. If you admit you lost it back in the day, you just pull over, ask someone directions.
Now you're not lost anymore. So admitting it is part of this process. And and this is why, you know, the phrase the disciplined pursuit of less the disciplined pursuit of what is essential is so meaningful to me because it is this absolutely. This willingness to day after day wake up. What's essential now? What's important now? Oh, we wake up. Oh, covid. Oh, that's a complete change. I mean, the Pivot's required a massive.
So so what your plan was the day before is almost certainly not your plan now. But if you have that practice, the pursuit of each day, well what's essential now then you can keep adapting to whatever circumstances come along. And that internal process to me is is like the very essence of essentialism. So often people when they read essentialism, they'll say, well, I can't say no to my boss's boss, just like that, which I never write that they should do that.
But that's where the head goes, is this very external interaction. And what I've spent all the years since writing, essentialism, trying to reemphasize is like no stock within. Yes, it's about you getting clarity. Of course, there's give and take with everybody in your life. If you want relationships, it's going to be give and take. But you can't have those conversations if you don't have internal clarity first. So that's the daily practice to get clear yourself so that you can even interact with others.
Yeah, and I'm so I'm so happy hearing that from you, seeing as you are the creator of essentialism that, you know, it's true. It's often I get it in a different sense. Your example, if you get it in the how do I tell my boss's boss? And that being.
Yeah, sometimes he will say to me, well, gee, you know, you used to be a monk and now you're married and you have a home and you have businesses and. How does how does like it's kind of hard for people to figure out, and I'm like, yes, simplicity is such an internal thing. Like I wake up and I've had the same essential intention for the last 10 years, probably, I'd say, which is I want to wake up and do what I love every day and I want to do it in a way that serves people and makes a difference in their life.
And whether I was a monk or and who I am now, I've had that same intention every single day. And so to me, I feel really simple and clear about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it and whether I did that wearing robes as a monk or whether I do that living in L.A. To me, I'm really clear on that. And that's to me what gives me simplicity. Someone could have a extravagant. Someone could have an extravagant life and a simple mind.
And someone could have a simple life but a confused mind. No, I really like the distinction. I mean, I saw that you were on you interviewed by Oprah recently. And and I think that's a great, great illustration of what you're describing there. I mean I mean, I don't know that any of us know no Oprah, the real. But the but the what we seem to sense in her, what seems to be the thing that has drawn people to her is a sense of clarity and intention.
I know what I'm about and what I'm not about.
And after having spent the last, you know, two or three years closer to Hollywood, I'm even more impressed by what she was able to do with this. Because what you don't, I think, appreciate on the outside of the industry is how is how cluttered it is with with sort of a rush mentality. Well, whoever's successful, we just should copy what they're doing, you know? Well, that's successful. We just produce another three shows like that and try and get them made.
And so I just I'm impressed that she's been able to keep what appears to have been a pretty clear, simple intent. And in all sorts of developments externally, I think it's been one of the reasons she's reached the audiences that she has. And I think it's absolutely why you've been able to reach the audiences you have. Thank you.
And I appreciate that this has been such this has been such a refreshing conversation. And I love I love it when you took charge of the interview, the job of it than I was.
No, not so. I appreciate that a lot. I thought it was great. And and I'm really happy that everyone got to listen to and observe and watch essentialism in action. And and I think the little activity that we did today and as small as everyone thinks it may be, it is the small things that make the biggest difference is I am not the first to say it, but we know that like it is BS, it is. Life is made up of all of these tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny moments.
And how we feel in a day affects how that week goes and how we feel in a week, affects how that month goes and how that month goes, affects a year. And so it's so important that we don't underestimate answering that question. So I want to let everyone know that, of course, I highly recommend you go out and get the book essentialism. But when you do it, I want you to go to that activity yourself as well, because that activity in and of itself can give you so much more insight than the book will actually help you understand how to implement it into your daily life.
So, you know, if you love this conversation like I have and you want to do more experiments on yourself and explore a little bit more, then I highly recommend you go out and grab a copy of the book or the book. Don't go out. If you want to order, order a copy of the book, because it's it's going to lead you down a path to clarity. And I think that's what we're all looking for, is just clarity in the noise.
DeCota ring and whether you think you want more or less in your life, this applies to both because even if you want more of something, you need to be an essentialist. And if you go unless it's something that's been essentially so you can't get away from Greg either way.
But, Greg, I want to ask you, we always end every interview with two short segments, one called Fill In the Blanks and the other ones called the final five. If you're happy with that, we can dive into that. Let's do it. OK, so fill in the blanks. I say a sentence. You fill in the last word. A big part of long term success is. Love, I wish everyone knew how. To hear and follow the internal voice of conscience, understand that your time is best spent.
Doing what you came here to do, seeing the whole picture starts. With creating time for concentrated thinking and working very thoughtful answers, I loved all of them.
These are your final five seconds that have to be in one word or one sentence maximum. So similar to what you just did now. OK, so we're want to start. OK, let's start with one question people should ask themselves daily. What's essential now? Great question number two, what do you know that you are absolutely certain about but that some people may disagree with you about?
I I know that we were built. For purpose, I mean, there are people out there that disagree with that, they kind of yeah, I mean, people think it's all accidental. Yeah, I think it's all been built with purpose.
OK, last two questions. You mentioned you spend time reading wisdom in scripture. I wanted to ask you, what's your favorite teaching from scriptures or wisdom?
Well, there's a there's a there's an Old Testament scripture that I love, which is. Trust in the Lord with all the heart. Lee, not until I know understanding in all the ways acknowledge him and he will direct bike paths. I think that's the great exchange. And and nobody has to believe what I believe just because I am. But but I think it's the great exchange that you give your life up and you say, OK, you know, for me, I'm giving my life up.
I believe in the universe, reality of the brotherhood of man that we are that we are all children of God. And so for me, it's about giving my life up in that service. It is service. And then then he will give a different kind of life to me. And and the exchange is like the best exchange possible. There's no better investment.
You get paid a hundredfold for making that exchange or some question number four.
What? I ruined the rules on that one, didn't I know. But it's fine. It was a great answer. I'm glad you did. So don't worry at all. What's the what's your number one book recommendation that you love? Um. Well, one, one that's awful.
Three one one that I often recommend it is is a book by David McCullough, who is not especially well now, but is an amazing writer. And he wrote, John Adams is a really amazing founding fathers. Him in some way the only founding fathers that didn't have slaves as just one tiny insight into the most amazing people, both him and his son both served as presidents. Just I can't read that book without being inspired about my own relationship with my own son and just how much they knew.
I am. I am appalled when I read about them, about how little I know.
Thank you for that. Never, never hurts. I need to check that out. Thank you so much. I'm so glad I asked that question. All right, Fishkin, final question. If you if you could create a law that everyone in the world would have to follow, what would it be? Well, I can't answer that honestly without answering it from sort of a religious perspective, I mean, it's just it would be to love God and to love each other.
I mean, I feel surprisingly emotional saying that, but it's just like look at the problems. Look, the too big for us. They're just too big for us on our own to just go. Oh, well, I'll just I'll just one person, any any president, any leader, any prime minister, what they're really going to solve these problems is it's way bigger than that.
And and so I think we need to look to source greater than us and and them and to really not not out of duty or dogma, but to butt out of real love and to be filled with that love, maybe greater love than we are capable of ourselves so that we can love the unlovable, liberal and lovable sometimes. I mean, I know I am. And so I need my family and my people around me to be full of a love greater in my behavior, you know, would necessarily draw out every moment.
So I think I think that's I think that's why we answer.
I love that everyone. That is Greg McEwan. You can check out his book, Essentialism the Disciplined Pursuit of Less. I also recommend you can listen to his podcast as well, essentialism with Greg McEwan and find him across social media. Greg, this has been awesome. Thank you so much. My pleasure. Thank you. This is a lot of fun. And I'm so glad we got to do this. And I look forward to meeting you now because we don't even live that far.
So we traveled we traveled five thousand miles to meet each other.
So we have to do at some point. Exactly. Exactly. I'd love that. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Everyone is listening today. Make sure you tag me and Greg on Instagram. Let us know what was the highlight from today's podcast for you. What was the wisdom? What was the insight? What was the question that you going to be taking forward into your life? Actually, take us both on Twitter, Instagram and wherever else you're posting so that we can respond and interact and see what resonated with you.
Thank you so much for listening, everyone. Big thanks to Greg again and Elseworlds.