Episode 268 – Effortless with Greg McKeown

‘One of the first principles to make progress in writing is to have the courage to be rubbish because all writing, literally absolutely all of it, starts rubbish.’

Greg McKeownIf his first book, Essentialism, was about prioritization, Greg McKeown’s second book, Effortless, is about simplification. And this is no theoretical treatise: the truths behind the book were born out of a deeply traumatic personal experience, and Greg and his family’s conscious decision to choose the ‘lighter path’.

Profound wisdom about life and robust advice for writing that might just change your life (and your business book).

Essentialism site: https://essentialism.com/

What’s Essential podcast: https://gregmckeown.com/podcast

Greg on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GregoryMcKeown

Alison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bookstothesky

The Extraordinary Business Book Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1447064765612358/

The Extraordinary Business Book Club bookshop: https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/extraordinarybusinessbooks

Alison Jones: I’m here today with Greg McKeown, who is a speaker, a best-selling author and the host of the popular podcast, What’s Essential. He’s been covered by the New York Times, Fast Company, Fortune, Politico and Inc, he’s been interviewed on NPR, NBC, Fox and the Steve Harvey Show. He’s among the most popular bloggers for LinkedIn, and he’s also a young global leader for the World Economic Forum.

His New York Times bestselling book Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less has sold more than a million copies worldwide. And his latest book is called Effortless: Make it easier to do what matters. So welcome to the show, Greg.

Greg McKeown: Alison. It’s great to be with you. Thank you.

Alison Jones: It’s really good to have you here.

And so obviously, firstly, congratulations on the book. Nice.

Greg McKeown: Thank you. Well, it’s a nice moment. The actual hardcover book just arrived a couple of days ago, I’m holding it right now, and that’s always a key moment. It’s too late to change anything for a start. So that’s, it’s a little fateful,

Alison Jones: Yeah. don’t spot any typos now.

Greg McKeown: That’s right, exactly, and I love the look, the graphics, the feel of a book.

 And I think I care about that as much as, or almost as much as, the content of it itself. And so I was quite curious about how I would feel when this arrived, whether I would slightly hate it or whatever. And I just feel, I don’t know, it has like a nice vibe about it and I like holding it.

It’s good. So this is for me personally, a good omen about the book.

Alison Jones: Well, that is relief. Yes. I’m sure your publisher’s going to be really, really relieved to hear that. It’s funny you say that, the graphics actually in the book are very friendly, aren’t they?

Greg McKeown: Well, that’s nice of you to say, I want them to be. I certainly didn’t want to write a book on Effortless that was hard on the eye and difficult to read. And so I wanted it…

Alison Jones: That would have been an own goal, wouldn’t it? There’s no hard edges. Yeah. No, it’s friendly. It’s accessible. Yes, it does make you feel, Oh, I’ve got this. It’s amazing how a graphic can do that.

Greg McKeown: Well, that’s what I want. I want someone to be able to read it and say like, I think I could do this.

Alison Jones: Tell us a little bit about the thinking behind it because many people will be familiar with Essentialism of course. So just tell us how Essentialism and Effortless relate to each other, and the journey of your thinking between the two.

Greg McKeown: If you had to summarize Essentialism in one word it’s prioritization. And if you were to summarize Effortless in one word, it would be simplification. And I think of them as standalone books, you could read them independently and not meaning to be too presumptuous, in this example, I think of them you know, sort of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, they made music separately, but it was when they were together, that magic happened in the Beatles.

 And so I think there is a relationship between these ideas that is especially useful and that is that you want to find what’s essential, you want to eliminate what’s not, but you also need to find a way to make what is most important as easy as possible. In fact, if you could make the most essential things the easiest things, then that would be the ideal circumstance.

And for lots of reasons, that’s not what happens for people. That’s my experience in working with people around the world for the last few years applying Essentialism. That often they think of these things as the hardest things to do. And so it makes it easier for them to shift away from those to things they perceive as being easy, but more trivial.

And I think it’s a false dichotomy. I don’t think you have to choose between the essential and hard and the easy and trivial. I think there’s this third alternative and that’s really what Effortless is about.

Alison Jones: Yeah. Yes. And when you finished Essentialism, did you have a nagging sense that there was another book to write or did that evolve out of the conversation that came out of Essentialism?

Greg McKeown: I wanted to write a book immediately following Essentialism. And so did my agent and so did the publisher, but I just couldn’t feel that it was right. I wanted it to be right. But the timing just didn’t feel right. And that was true for years.

And then a couple of years ago, just quite inexplicably it felt like the time was right again. And I can’t explain really, even now, why that changed. Other than to say there was a personal experience that I think I needed to go through in order to be able to write this book. I would’ve written a different book if it weren’t for a personal experience that I had when I was already feeling the good but real problem of all these new opportunities because of Essentialism. And by this point, as well as writing Essentialism, I also had four children, so responsibilities had increased and I just started to find myself go, well, what do you do when you have too many essentials?

And then in the midst of that, I had a family crisis. One of my daughters suddenly became really ill and without a diagnosis. And that was now one more responsibility and a significant one. And in response to that, I really needed to find not just the right things to do in life, but the right way of going about them so that we could sustain the effort necessary to deal with this new crisis and still maintain health and the other relationships and responsibilities of life.

So it really grew out of that agony the need to find a lighter path, because it was clear if we took the heavier path that we just weren’t going to even make it.

So that personal experience definitely set me on this quest to be able to understand for myself, for my family, then of course for other people around the world. How can you, when you can’t work any harder, how can you find an easier path? What might that look like? What are the principles and practices for doing it?

Alison Jones: And it’s such a powerful story, the way you put that, you know, absolutely harrowing personal experience in there, but draw something from it that you can bring. I really felt for you as well, actually, I mean, neurology, I remember a neurologist saying to me once, I had an issue and then they said, well, neurology is 90% magic.

There’s just so much uncertainty. Nobody really knows. And that’s the hardest thing, isn’t it? And as you say, I think the response is so often when you don’t know what’s going on to double down and to get more opinions and to almost lose yourself in trying to fix it. And it was really powerful the way that you took a different view on that.

Do you want to just maybe just quickly give the story because we’re talking about it as if everybody knows. And of course they don’t.

Greg McKeown: We’d moved into an idyllic community a few years ago, white picket fences, tree-lined streets, more horse ways than roads. And our children were just so happy, just really thrived here. Especially one of my daughters, Eve, she’s riding horses, she’s naming the chickens. Yeah. We have chickens. She’s barefoot everywhere.

She’s climbing trees. She’s reading voluminously. I mean, just unbelievable, you know, especially around insects, animals, she’s writing a journal constantly. She’s just speaking a hundred words a minute, just extraordinary personality, very, very bright and humorous.

And then she turned 14 and she just slowed down when she was doing her chores, she took a longer time to do it. She spoke less to us, a little awkward physically and we just thought, well, look, it’s pretty age- appropriate behavior. You know, we go through phases, didn’t think too much of it until she had a physical therapist appointment, just something very, you know, normal, and she failed a reflex test.

And he just said, you know, I think I would go and see a neurologist because that really shouldn’t have happened. I don’t want to alarm you, but you might want to look into it. And of course you don’t have to be told twice. So we immediately set up those appointments and also started to look at the changes in her behavior through a different lens.

And that behavior changed on an almost daily basis. So you know, it’s like it’s slowly then suddenly, and suddenly we can see this discombobulation of her personality. I mean, she just lost her personality, there was just no emotion. She really could only answer any question, a one- word answer. It took her fully two minutes to write her name.

The whole right-hand side of her body stopped working, worked at a slower pace than the left-hand side, took a couple of hours to eat a meal and on and on and all the while we’re meeting with these neurologists and they’re, you know, they’re just, I mean, I remember one just shrugging. Yeah. Just, just shrugging his shoulders, like, I’ve just no idea. Because every test would come back in the normal range.

And so as you see this freefall of capability plus not even an essence of a diagnosis, nothing, what are you to do? And it just became clear in that moment that there really were two paths in front of us, the heavier path and the lighter path. And the heavier path… it sounds obvious, so if you’ve got the two, take the lighter path, but it wasn’t obvious at the time, we felt inclined to do the first. Actually, we didn’t even really know there were two options at first. I mean, you just, you’re going to get consumed with this night and day.

You go to Google every possible diagnosis that you can think of, and people are sending you them all the time, you know, not medical experts, but just friends, family.

Oh, well maybe she has this or this. You could just get completely lost in all of that. You could get easily into the why, why Eve? This is so unfair. I mean, she’s just this little girl really. You know, you could get feeling quite sorry for yourself.

You could easily imagine getting so burned out that you burn out physically, mentally, but then also your marriage, your family, your culture. I mean this happens sometimes and it’s understandable, but then we just sensed there was a lighter path, that there was a different way to do this. Yes, you can’t change the thing itself at first, but if you can find a lighter, more thankful response, if you can look for what’s going right, if you can maintain a different kind of state, then it helps you to discern what action to take and what action not to take. And that proved to be true for us. So we’re, I mean, what it looked like for us at first, it’s like, okay, well, we’re going to keep meeting with neurologists, but we’re not going to let it consume us body and soul.

We’re going to also laugh together, be relentlessly grateful with each other. We’re going to get around the piano and sing. We’re going to laugh. We’re going to still do all those things to maintain a healthy environment, a good culture, a good state. And we saw a sort of magic happen around that, where we just were able to maintain perspective and know, sort of have a sense of, not this person, let’s not go with this neurologist, but let’s go pursue this one over here. And we felt guided in the journey.

And in the end, I mean, as of this conversation this is two years later. She is, I would describe her as being back, like all the way back, mentally, physically, psychologically like the whole thing.

 But there were such ups and downs along that journey. And if we had taken, which I now see is the heavier path, there just wouldn’t have been anything left in the tank to deal with the second round of treatments, the second return of symptoms. And so, you know, from that, in that challenging experience, it just broke open this alternative way of doing life.

And so we don’t have to go through crisis in order to learn this. We can learn it on the cheap but there are these other ways of thinking, of working, of doing, that allow us to ease life’s inevitable burdens on the one side, but also to make things that used to seem impossible to us, possible.

That’s the double whammy value proposition of Effortless. If things are really hard, apply Effortless. If you want to do something that seems outside of your reach, because you’re ready for a big challenge, apply Effortless.

Alison Jones: And Greg, what really strikes me as well as, you know, listening to that experience and what came out of it, is that you have a writer’s mindset in a sense. And I remember somebody saying to me: when you’re a writer, a good day is a good day and a bad day’s material. And that’s kind of flippant, but actually it’s part of exactly what you’re saying here, isn’t it?

 You don’t get to choose what happens to you, but you get to choose how you respond and what you create out of it. And I think that’s a powerful message for anybody listening is that one of the reasons to write is that you take the stuff life throws at you and you get something really meaningful out of it.

Greg McKeown: I have a friend who’s an author, Jon Acuff, and he just came out with a new book called Soundtracks and one of the soundtracks that he has implemented in his own life, a way of thinking, you know, we have these broken soundtracks, we need to replace them with soundtracks that help us and support us.

And one of them is you either succeed or you have a story. And I love that line because it’s so true. People love to hear the fail stories. So that’s what you get. You always have an asset, if you’ll take action and try something.

Alison Jones: Yes. And let’s apply the effortless thing and the story thing, see what I’m doing here, I’m bringing in the Extraordinary Business Book angle because Effortless is definitely a word that many people would not use about the practice of writing a book. So I want to find out what writing looks like for you and what’s effortless and what’s less so, but also I loved the idea of the zero draft.

So I just wondered, could you sort of share that with people? Because I thought it was such a genius way and you talk quite openly about how this is how you do your book.

Greg McKeown: Yes. I mean, I think one of the first principles to make progress in writing is to have the courage to be rubbish because all writing, literally absolutely all of it starts rubbish. And so a risk, I think, for many would be writers is that they’re just expecting a higher standard than they can actually produce right this second. That any of them can. And so, well, I’ve got to be able to write something really superb and that’s what I think causes writer’s block, is that you oh, well, it needs to be exceptional and start with something brilliant or whatever we sometimes call like baby Yoda type.

Oh yeah. It’s it just has to come out all pretty and beautiful and all cute and marvelous. And that’s…

Alison Jones: And must be original.

Greg McKeown: Oh, yes, yes, yes. No one’s ever said what I’m about to write down. And that kind of pressure is just exactly the opposite state to be able to actually make progress in and is that sort of perfectionist thing is just going to be the enemy of progress.

And so, yeah, I like the idea one way to say this is to write not a first draft of something, but a zero draft. Where you say, look no one has to see this. No one will ever see this. This is just rubbish. Let’s get something out. And it just relieves this pressure. And then you can, of course, you know, the vision of revision is that, well, you start with something rubbish and then you become a little less rubbish and less rubbish until it’s okay. And then it becomes good. And eventually…

I mean, that’s the process and if you want to write something exceptional, I think of there being effectively no other path. And so, I keep a document, I’m working on the next book already, and I have a document and just all the rubbish goes into it and it’s a perfectly sensible way of beginning.

And it takes off a lot of pressure to be able to get started. If you can’t start, you can’t finish. And that’s true with writing a book or any other project.

Alison Jones: Yeah, it’s so true. I really hope that that has helped, I’m sure that will have helped somebody out there who’s going well, I just don’t know if it’s good enough. Of course it’s not, not yet, but keep going.

When it comes to applying the Effortless thing to writing, which, you know, is effort. I, well, I think it’s effort, tell me what’s effortless for you and what you have to do. You know, because you couple things with things that are fun to do, you know, you’ve got lots of strategies for making hard things effortless. What works for you when you’re writing?

Greg McKeown: One thing that works for me is trying to have some self-awareness about how much to write, like how much time to write on a day. And that’s changed over the years as I become more aware of my own writing ability and limitations. So for example, if I write two hours a day and my goal is to write two pages, which to me is actually a really respectable amount of writing to do and an amount of time to do it, that’s pretty optimal. And if I do three hours, it doesn’t then equal to three pages. My rate of both quantity and quality goes down. And if I do four, five, six, seven hours, then I can actually get to the point where I’m making the whole manuscript worse than it was at the beginning of the day.

So I think of this as being like, well, optimal, you know, is a good return on investment, but be careful about when you reach the point of diminishing returns. So for me that’s anything over a couple of hours. But certainly stop once you get to negative returns. I mean, like literally stop,

Alison Jones: Just put it down, walk away…

Greg McKeown: Walk away, because you’re now damaging, you know, you’re going backwards.

 Alison Jones: There’s a great story in the book about a book proposal that you heard about that was sent and then the authors kept resubmitting it to the point where it actually just was rubbish by the end, but it had been quite good.

Greg McKeown: Yes. And I think that endless tinkering is, I mean, that’s one way I make writing harder than it needs to be is the tinkering. I had, my editor wrote the book flap copy for Effortless for the U S market and I tortured her on that for like months. We just went round and round on that.

And well, what if we did it this way and what are the right questions and what are they? And then I came across, months later, the very first copy she’d ever sent to me and I looked at it, and I literally was like, I think that might be better than what we have.

Alison Jones: You do realize how ironic this is, right?

Greg McKeown: Yes. Well, there’s plenty, you know, I wrote this book for me and there’s plenty of ways in which I make things harder than they need to be. And I just now at least have this new perspective, this paradigm to be able to even look at my life and see, notice well that was Effortless, why? Let’s study what worked about that. Now let’s look at where things have been effortful and exhausting, and just feeling like they’re too hard.

Why is that? And it just opens the possibility of more progress that feels effortless. And so working for example something that was effortless was, working with my editor is superb. I love working with Talia Krohn, I’ve done both books with her and I, you know, I imagine we will do the next book together.

 And I brought in somebody to do some research with me Jonathan Cullen. And what was effortless was working together on the manuscript itself. We hardly had a phone call, like the whole time, we did have phone calls, but that wasn’t how we were doing it. We weren’t talking through everything.

We would just open up, we just had a Google doc and it was nothing fancy and we would just go in there and it was just so fun. It felt like a scene from Harry Potter for me. Because I would go in there and you could see, you know, stories I’d ask ed, you know, Jonathan to find or do some research on, suddenly being pulled in and placed into the document.

I’d see Talia editing something I’d written the day before. I’d be typing. And it was just like, you’d see this text appearing and this just quite seamless collaboration that was effortless. I mean, it felt so, just flowed through it. And I already miss working with them because of how good that was and there’s, you know, so there’s, you know, there’s things that I did that made it much harder.

Another thing I did that made it much harder was that I just worried way too much about it. To the point of fear and there’s just, no, there’s no upside to that. Being responsible, there’s upside for that, taking it seriously, there’s an upside to that, but there’s a point where it’s just definitely not helping you make progress.

 And so, you know, trying to see your efforts through this, see which things are working, which things are making progress, and on the other hand, which things are just complicating this and getting in the way, is part of making progress and making writing easier in the future.

Alison Jones: I love that idea of a Google doc being like your own kind of personal Marauders Map, is brilliant. Just seeing people putting words in magically, that’s great.

And fun is such a key part of this. Isn’t it? Actually, if you can make something fun, you talk about tea time with the music on and you know that’s such a great, great tip.

There was one thing in the book that I particularly wanted to cover, because I think it’s so interesting for listeners to this podcast. So I’m going to drag you to it. And I can’t even do segue, I’m sorry, but I just want to cover it because it’s so fascinating.

Greg McKeown: That’s a great segue.

Alison Jones: Yeah. Do you know what? I don’t even care. We’re just going to talk about it. And it’s the idea of sort of residual benefit, residual results. talk about Essentialism, you know, the first book, as a really great example of this, I just thought, yes, because what you do is you take the time upfront to write your stuff, to codify your IP, to do the thinking, and then it goes out into the world and you never have to write it again.

Greg McKeown: I feel like life changes the day that you really discover the difference between linear results and residual results. You know, linear results are you put in effort one time you get a result one time. Residual results are where you put in effort one time and you get results 10 times, a hundred times, thousand times.

I mean, I can keep going but people will think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. I mean, it can be a million times and that is literally been true in writing Essentialism. So yes, you know, compared to, for example, teaching our one- day class on Essentialism, that is more effort to write a book and to try and write it well, but the dividend is incomparable.

You know, suddenly you can reach people all over the world and that’s exactly what’s happening. And I don’t just mean, in fact, I don’t mean primarily the financial residual benefit. Although that does exist and is insightful for entrepreneurs to try and design businesses that work that way, but I’m talking about residual goodness, residual impact, and there’s just nothing like it to me that somebody right now is reading Essentialism or reading Effortless, and they’re having an experience.

And some of those, a percentage of those people will write to me and it just never gets old, it’s an amazing thing. And from a, it’s a bit heavy to think about it this way maybe, but to have the test that well, if life ended for me today, this would continue. There would be people who could still, you know, and if a book is not an entirely dead thing which… I love that idea. There’s actually sort of some life in books, that life continues and the impact continues.

And so it’s, I became committed as I was writing this new book to just finding other ways. How can you set things up in perpetuity? How can you take that perspective and design things so that they last for a long, long time? And writing is clearly a part of that.

David McCullough, one of my writing heroes and he’s not well now, but he’s a great historian here in the United States. And he said, if you want your impact to last forever, just write a journal and then give it to a library before you die, that will protect the journal.

And he said you’ll be a voice one in a million from your generation. Because people in a hundred years who are looking for original sources. Yes. I know that we have all these digital files and so on, but we’ll still want the actual physical documents, you know, those that have far less digital decay, and then yeah, because they’re physical, that you can have this impact.

So writing is I think a way almost inherently of having a residual impact. In writing your book of course, even more so.

Alison Jones: Yeah, it leaves a trail in the world. doesn’t it? It’s a brilliant way of thinking about it. Actually, hairs on the back of the neck moment. Thank you. That’s fantastic. Thank you for bearing with me. And I’m going to ask you as well as I ask every guest, what would be your one best tip for the first-time business book writer?

Greg McKeown: Well, the best tip that was ever given to me is more than 20 years old now, from a church leader who gave me some very savvy advice. He said, Greg don’t write a book that nobody wants to read.

Alison Jones: Yep. You argue with that, can you.

Greg McKeown: And he said it after I had just shared an idea for a book. So it wasn’t quite that he was saying it as bluntly as it now sounds as I’m putting it, but it was still not totally irrelevant point that he was making about my idea. And actually it’s really brilliant because that difference between writing with your own mind in mind, meaning, you know, you’re so obsessed with an idea or your mostly this, you think the world needs what you have, is basically I think an error, it’s basically an error of judgment in writers. People, readers, buy what they want, and then we need to figure out how to give them also what they need. And so that sometimes chasm difference between what the reader is actually interested in, hungry for right now in the midst of their busy, overwhelming, possibly burned out life.

You know, that’s where people are. And then, we write something that we think, well, they need it, but we’re not writing in terms they can recognize it, that they can feel, Oh, I want this right now. And so I don’t know how well I’ve done that with Essentialism or now with Effortless, but that’s something I have wanted to do.

And I think it’s important because you’re in service of the reader. It’s not just you saying, well, this is what the world needs. It’s a quick way to be ignored that. So anyway, that’s the best tip is don’t write a book that nobody wants to read.

Alison Jones: It’s a great tip. And I know it sounds really obvious, but when you’re in love with your idea and when you know so much about it, it’s so easy to lose sight of it, isn’t it?

Greg McKeown: I’m sent lots of manuscripts by people that are full of good ideas. But then on the face of it, I’m always asking this question. But if I don’t care about this idea, like you do, if I’m just busy in my life and I want the things I want, will I recognize this as being an answer to what I want and that making that connective tissue, bridging that gap is I think the difference between, sort of a book that reaches X audience and a book that reaches 10 X or a hundred X audience?

Alison Jones: Yeah. Brilliant tip. Thank you. And I’m also going to ask you for a business book recommendation, actually it doesn’t have to be a business book, but a book that you’d like to recommend that you think anybody listening to this podcast who’s into business books should read.

Greg McKeown: Well, I mentioned Jon Acuff’s book Soundtracks. It’s a book that I just really enjoyed recently. I think that that’s sort of top of mind. He, interestingly, when I was reading it’s one of the reasons I liked the book is that he said that in the past one of the soundtracks he has about writing is, and it’s based on a quote that says the same thing, that writing is just, it’s no problem, all you have to do is get to your typewriter and bleed. And that is, there’s a lot of that sentiment around and I have, I have had that soundtrack in my head, you know, for years myself as well, you know? Yes. It’s just difficult. It’s so hard. Writing is so hard. I mean, it’s worth it, but it’s so hard and that’s a story. And it’s not a story that never is true, but do we really want that soundtrack playing again and again, and again?

 I mean, we’ll find evidence to support it. We’ll start to think that if something’s easy, we will distrust it. It has to be hard for it to be good. And that sort of thing I think is unhelpful. So he picked it as independent of Effortless, but he picked a new soundtrack for himself, which was light and easy, light and easy.

And he even went so far as to go and buy the Nike shoes that were used in the famous race. I’m sure listeners will have seen or heard about the breaking the two hour marathon mark. And there were these particular shoes they designed, and I don’t know how gimmicky that is be honest, but.

Alison Jones: Incredibly light Nike shoes, yes.

Greg McKeown: That’s what they are. And so he bought a pair of those and he would wear them while he was writing as a symbolic reminder to be light and easy. Don’t overthink this, don’t stress about everything. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. And so I love that mantra and he was the one that introduced it to me, light and easy.

What if writing could be light and easy and not so, so dramatically hard and difficult and blood, sweat, and tears and all of that? What if there’s a light and easy path, what if there’s a different way to write that actually is just doable for you and it’s different for someone else, you find your own way? What if writing could be effortless? And so that’s one book that’s top of mind for me.

Alison Jones: Unfortunately, you just scored a real own goal by associating the idea of writing with the idea of running a marathon in two hours. So not quite sure that I’m fully on board with this actually Greg. I take, I take the principle.

Greg McKeown: Yes. Yes. Fair enough. Yeah.

Alison Jones: I’ve run a couple of marathons. It took me a damn sight longer than that, but…

Greg McKeown: how long did you train? How long did you train for your marathon?

Alison Jones: Well, clearly not long enough. I haven’t done one for about five years, six years now because it just, not because of the marathon running actually, I, you know, I still kind of think one day I will. It just, the training for marathon takes such a chunk out of your life. You know, for so many weekends beforehand, you’ve got to be running three, four hours.

Well, if you’re going to…. well, I couldn’t finish without that, you know, I need to train up for it. So yes, it’s a huge commitment. But having said that, and in the spirit of Effortless, the best way I discovered was to plug yourself into an audio book. And then you don’t just notice, you just, you know, it’s quite nice, it’s time away from the kids and you’re listening to a good book and, you know, I think that is very much in harmony with your principles, isn’t it?

Greg McKeown: I think it is. And I was asking for real, because this morning I was just talking to my son about this and we’d gone swimming together this morning. And as I was swimming, I thought, Oh, maybe we should do something, you know, one of these. I don’t mean a full Ironman, but something, and then we’d do it together.

And I was talking to him about it afterwards and he’s like, yeah but the running, that’s, I don’t really, haven’t really done that much running. And I was just talking to him about, well, it’s not, you don’t have to do it in a super hard way. You never, you know, I’ve seen different training preparations and some of them you know, most of them don’t require you to run the full 26 miles ever ahead of time. And so, you know, you don’t want to burn out your body before you go and do the race itself. And so I was curious about what you found, but I actually hadn’t thought about doing like, just a book while you run. I’ve done music. I’ve enjoyed music while I was running, but the idea of a great audio book while you’re running, I think that’s fascinating.

What books did you listen to?

Alison Jones: I remember particularly that the Hunger Games trilogy saw me through some particularly horrible 20 milers.

Greg McKeown: Well, actually I haven’t, but I’ve seen some training things that don’t require 20 miles prepping work, but some I’ve looked at, but I’ve never done 26 miles. I’ve done 13 miles, but never done a full 26, but I’ve seen some that say just no more than 10 in advance, because, but you don’t think that would work at all?

Alison Jones: I don’t think that would work. I remember standing at a water station at 20 miles. And somebody wandered up and said, Oh, you know what, what point is this? And they said 20 miles. And they went, Oh yeah, halfway. And that is how it feels in a marathon, the last six, oh my goodness. Anyway, listen, we are over time. This is such a good conversation.

I do want to talk to you all day, but I can’t. And I’m very aware that I need to tell people where they can find out more about you and more about books.

Greg McKeown: I think that if people want to just be part of this journey that just could go to, they could go to a Essentialism.com because right now, if they’re reading Effortless, they also get access to a 21-day challenge, there’s all these micro adjustments all done in video. You just get one per day for 21 days just saying how you can make it a little easier to do what’s essential.

And so I think that would be maybe the one place. But if they like podcasts, they can subscribe to What’s Essential. I just love being able to talk with all sorts of people. Matthew McConaughey is just coming up and also lots of authors and colleagues of mine and then sometimes everyday people. And just how to apply Essentialism, so, and Effortless to their life. So those are a few options.

Alison Jones: Fantastic. And any of those really are easier to find than your name which is tricky, but I will put that up on the show notes as well. Greg, it was an absolute pleasure talking to you today, thank you so much for your time.

Greg McKeown: Thank you, Alison. It’s been a pleasure.

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