Focus is the key

Steve Jobs had a lot of questionable qualities. He could be narcissistic (he reportedly never gave any of his money to charity), he could be arrogant and, by all accounts, he was ruthless with people who worked for him. He famously denied that his daughter was his and had to be sued for child support. All in all, I think he just didn’t care what people thought about him, and that is why he was so successful.

Don’t be like Steve. But, if we look hard we can find very good things about him to emulate. One of my favorite quotes by Steve is:

“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 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.”

There is a lot of wisdom in this quote. There are more good, valuable things to do in life than we have time for, and that’s even after you weed out all the bad things we could be doing. As a good person, of course you want to get to them all. Someone likely depends on them. You want to please them. You care about them. But trying to do everything is failing you.

Steve is specifically talking about chasing ideas in this quote, but it is just as applicable to everyday activities. To be successful in your business, truly successful, you need to decide which of the good things you are not going to do. And you do that by taking a step back and deciding what the goals of your business are. When presented with something that needs to be done you ask yourself “is this going to get us closer to our goals?”, and if the answer is no, well, you know what you have to do.

This will piss some people off. Without a doubt. But you have a responsibility to do what’s best for the business. That is why you’re here after all. Not to make yourself look good, but to be a good steward of the business. And when the business prospers, a lot of people prosper. All the staff. All the customers. When the business fails, a lot of people suffer. Maybe not that one person you did the good thing for, but everyone else.

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