An essential summer read for business owners

I love to read.

Ever since I was a young boy, learning to read in the arms of my parents, I have enjoyed the written word.

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I am amazed at how the crafted phrase can capture my imagination and open my mind to worlds and ideas I have never explored or considered. I read for pleasure, entertainment and learning. Recently I read Ernest Hemingway's classic The Old Man and the Sea, and, while it's short, it took me as long to read the book as it took the old man to bring in his fish.

In the year after I completed my MBA and I began business coaching. I read everything I could get my hands on related to the topic of business improvement. I estimated that I read more books in the six months after completing the course than I had during the two years it took me to obtain my masters.

Books such as the E Myth, Unstuck, Built to Last, Traction, Jump Start your Business Brain and Simon Sinek's Start with Why just to name a few of my favourites. I even wrote my own book Profit Yourself Healthy because I saw a need for small business owners who were struggling with their businesses.

In the last year I have read books on changes in retailing, management, leadership, goal setting, sales and accountability and competing in the construction industry - as well as a few John Grisham novels.

Occasionally I come across a book that is exceptional and I want to share.

A few months ago, I read Jim Collin's Good to Great for the first time and it made such an impression I had to write my weekly column on it.

This week I found something even better. Perhaps Jim Collin's fans will disagree, however, Greg McKeown's book Essentialism should be a summer read for every business leader. Not exactly a new book, it was written in 2014, but the ideas are timeless and have the potential to change your life.

Most business leaders I know are often overwhelmed with opportunities, ideas and responsibilities. There are meetings, phone calls and an endless stream of emails and texts and interruptions that cause us to be ineffective.

We go home with business on our brain and become irritated with our family because they are vying for our attention. Many times we finish our day feeling discouraged, unproductive and disheartened.

This is where Essentialism, the Disciplined Pursuit of Less comes in.

Why are we trying to do so much?

Why do we say "Yes" to so many requests, opportunities and wishes of others that might be meaningful to them but are distractions from our true purposes and goals?

As McKeown states, the nonessentialist is always trying to please others, everything is important, is always reacting to what is pressing, is taking on too much and achieving too little. The Nonessentialist often feels out of control and overwhelmed.

The essentialist on the other hand focuses on the things that really matter and says no to most opportunities except those that fit their specific criteria. They make important choices that allow them to do good work. They feel present, in control and get things done.

One might read those two descriptions and think that an Essentialist would be self-serving while a nonessentialist is more focused on trying to help others. Yet McKeown describes Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and Rosa Parks as essentialists because they had clarity on what they had to do and were successful in not getting sidetracked while fulfilling their goals.

How much more could you achieve in your business, with your family, and in your life, if you were focused on doing fewer things which distracted you from what is important?

Here are some examples of how this book has made a difference in my past week.

It helped me realize what is important in my life and to become more focused on making a difference with my life.

I developed and wrote down some criteria for making big decisions which will serve me in the future.

I realized that there was a better way to deal with my challenging teens in a fashion that would get more results in the long run and reduce conflict in my family.

It allowed me to determine if two coaching opportunities I was referred with last week are going to be good fits or if I should say no.

It helped me spend the time to get this article written, avoid some distractions, and prioritize a busy day while completing the important things without becoming overwhelmed.

It's true that I might have come to the same conclusions without reading the book, however Essentialism gave me more clarity to fulfill my life's purpose one little decision at a time.

If you are looking to read one great business book this summer that will make a real difference for you, I encourage you to pick up Essentialism.

Oh, and please tell me what business book has changed your life. I would love to hear about it.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. What is the best business book you have read lately? Email dave@profityourselfhealthy.com.

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