What’s the most important tool available to every leader?
It’s not experience or personality.
It can be used effectively in any size company and in any competitive environment.
It’s incredibly simple to learn yet almost no one uses it.
It’s called focus.
Did you know that, for most of human history, the word priority was singular?
One thing. That’s it. Not multiple priorities that really represent dozens of things rolled into broad, ambiguous goals.
Every week, I interact with organizations that are running off in multiple directions, diffusing their power. No one knows what really matters. The same thing applies to meetings and the schedules of most executives. If you looked at the calendar for a typical senior executive, you would have no idea what the most important things really are. It’s a random set of disconnected transactions.
Now consider an alternative.
In the April 2012 issue of Harvard Business Review, Walter Isaacson described the return of Steve Jobs to Apple. At one point, he brought the top 100 people together to set priorities. After a lot of discussion, they narrowed the list to 10 things. He then went to the front of the room and crossed off seven and proclaimed: “We can only do three!”
How can it be that an organization that has so changed the world was so narrowly focused? Maybe their success came from their fanatical ability to focus.
Consider this quote from Steve Jobs:
People think focus means saying yes to the things you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundreds of other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
How focused is your organization? How about your calendar? Do you enjoy saying no?
Try this different path for 30 days:
Become a focus warrior. Be relentless. You will soon see the multitude of forces trying to distract and dilute your efforts. It’s a daily battle, but it’s one that will yield big victories.
Join the conversation on LinkedIn
Thursday and Friday, March 5 and 6, 2020.
Facilitated by our CEO, Jeff Anderson.