“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas.” – Steve Jobs
One of the things I think is a big struggle for high performing people (which I’m sure you all are) is focus. There are so many things pulling us in different directions, things that we could do to make our businesses better. The opportunities for distraction are endless.
The trick, though, isn’t to figure out what stuff is a waste of time, although that helps. The real trick is to wade through the stuff that isn’t a waste of time and identify the best things to do. If you are a business leader there are so many things that could be positives for your business. Maybe it’s revamping your production processes, developing internal training programs, creating better marketing processes, more clearly defining your target customers, developing new products – I could keep going for days.
The reality of all of those ideas is that while they all may create positive change, they don’t all have the same impact. You have to be able to evaluate all those good ideas and decide which are the best, and which ones will get you WHERE you want to go faster than the others. The only way to do that is to have a clear picture in your head of WHERE you want to go.
If I bump into you on the street and ask about your vision for the business you lead, and you can’t really tell me in a way I understand, then you don’t have that clear enough picture. If that’s the case, then you’re a prime candidate for distraction. You’re going to see all these potentially great ideas and want to chase them. And when you’re done chasing them, you’ll wonder why you don’t feel that great about what you’ve accomplished.
Even good ideas aren’t always the best ideas. Don’t be afraid to say no to things that are good ideas. Don’t be afraid to turn down opportunities that might be interesting. Don’t be afraid to walk away from people who may be talented. Sometimes it’s hard to remember, but not all good things are the right things. Stay focused on only the best. Down the road, when you’ve reached your destination, you’ll realize that those ‘best’ were the things that got you there.