A True Essentialist •
Like most great books, I have a ton of underlines, highlights, and notes. However, there are usually one or two stories that stand out above the rest.
In this case, McKeown’s story about Peter Drucker stayed with me long after I finished the book. It certainly gave insight into how he uses his 24 hours per day.
“Peter Drucker believed that ‘people are effective because they 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 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the Hungarian professor most well known for his work on ‘flow,’ reached out to interview a series of creative individuals for a book he was writing on creativity, Drucker’s response was interesting enough to Mihaly that he quoted it verbatim: ‘I am greatly honored and flattered by your kind letter of February 14th—for I have admired you and your work for many years, and I have learned much from it. But, my dear Professor Csikszentmihalyi, I am afraid I have to disappoint you. I could not possibly answer your questions. I am told I am creative—I don’t know what that means…I just keep on plodding…I hope that you will 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 consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work that Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well.'”
Also published on Medium.