The Essential Few is a strategy that brings together many of the pieces we have been working with, using them in this higher level management process.

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It must be stated clearly that this is for use AFTER you have your workflow going and are achieving results.

If you attempt to use it before that, it merely becomes a sufficing shortcut, that only further encourages sufficing, which from a quality point of view, is a downwards trending habit – always modifying the criteria downwards to “make do” after the fact.

When used as a management tool, you periodically assess the various areas of your life and workflow and projects for critical points, bottle-necks and maintaining quality and direction.

The process is simple:

  1. For any area of your life or project, list the vital processes and outputs that are critical elements for achieving whatever your purposes are.
  2. Although this may be straightforward, discovering what the actual critical elements are for any process may require thinking.

    For example, when asking small business owners “What specifically makes your cash registers ring? What specifically makes and keeps the customers buying from you?” can uncover a surprising range of answers from the simply outlandish to the deeply disturbing.

    The critical elements may not be in your map. In this case the beginnings of the answer are ALWAYS with the customers – they are the ones who can tell you.

    But then it takes deeper digging within one’s business to determine precisely what activities of yours connect directly with the customer’s buying – the answers are not always an obvious superficiality.

    Another example, a real estate agent in her 50s who is a serial dieter, who was constantly changing from one diet program to another trying to find a diet that would “keep the weight off” but she refused to consider maintaining elements of the various programs that she tried that had worked – like meal planning, food measurement, weekly weigh-ins and monthly tape measure readings.

    Essentially she concentrated on the inputs only and refused to change the governing and moderating behaviors. – hence zero change of what controls and moderates her intake beyond a food list.

    As soon as “the diet” was dropped; the weight would return. This only shifted when her attention was brought to the management and control aspect of change.

    In this sense, she had to shift from “vital foods” to building and maintaining the vital “governing and awareness” habits.

    That was the vital few key to her diet. By changing her attention from inputs to vital systems, she lost the weight and maintained it.

    Consider as well the vital outputs – what you need to keep producing – especially as matter of scheduled weekly output.

    Control of those vital outputs keeps the show on the road.

  3. Are you currently spending enough time in each of the vital areas to achieve your desired ends?
  4. Are you using your resources wisely in this regard?

    This is the key to both management and control of your life – assessing resource requirements and wise distribution of your time and energy and money and every other resource you possess.

    You are free to do as you please, but as the importance of what you hope to create increases, and the size and scope of your goals grows; freewheeling it can have dire consequences.

    This is how you become wiser… applying the data and the lessons of your life to make better judgments about what you are doing with your time and resources.

  5. #3. If you are not acting wisely in these areas under consideration; what will you change? What are you willing to give up to get what you want?
  6. Quality and Truth walk; Bullshit talks. If your directions and goals are truthful both to you as a person, and are sincerely desired; then the only appropriate stance is to pursue them honestly and directly.

    If you are not giving real energy and attention to what you say you want to create, what are you doing?

    What is the game – hide and seek? put on a mask and hope? don’t commit because you could fail? I’m a martyr – how could anyone ask for more when…?

    Life is often a matter of trade-offs and arrangements. Sometimes what we want requires more than we are willing to give.

    Not everyone can be a sports hero, but anyone can honorably be a sports fan.

The Essential Few helps to keep your focus on what you say is most important, and also what needs to be maintained in order for those aims to thrive.

Do not waste your time, energy or your life pining for things that you will not commit to, tradeoff for, or engage fully.

Anything that is not “real” for you, in terms of actual, purposeful, progressive goal focused action is probably better transformed into something that is honorable and achievable.

By reflecting on the utility and value of how you allocate your resources, and then make appropriate changes; you become more masterful of your condition and circumstances – whatever they may be and however lofty or humble they seem.

It’s not about where you are right now but about where you are going and how you are shaping your behaviors, or your behaviors are shaping you.

Choose three key areas of your life or projects that you value and work on The Essential Few questions:

  1. For any area of your life or project, list the vital processes and outputs that are critical elements for achieving whatever your purposes are.
  2. Are you currently spending enough time in each of the vital areas to achieve your desired ends? Are you using your resources wisely in this regard?
  3. If you are not acting wisely in these areas under consideration; what will you change? What are you willing to give up to get what you want?

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