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Are you focused or just lying to yourself?

I had a fascinating conversation with a mentor and friend a few days ago and as always he left me with a nugget of advice that I wish he’d shared with me just over a year ago when I first met him. He’s shared a ton of good advice though so I guess this was just one in the line of the very good thoughts he’s shared with me on this journey to build P2S. He asked me a simple question that occupied my thoughts and actions for all of the day after we chatted and has led to some improvements in how I’m planning for 2013.

His question was ‘do you have a NO list’? My response was ‘uhn?’

He then went on to explain to me that an assessment of the directions/strategies you choose not to take in building your business are as valuable as a review of how the things you did choose to do turned out. In building a business you make a thousand decisions within the course of the year. Every ‘yes’ business decision comes with some resource requirements, in the form of money/time/human capital, for implementation to happen. Deciding to do one thing over another impacts the business.

Comparing your ‘No’ list to your ‘Yes’ list (better known as the goals/tasks you worked on during the year) highlights how focused you were on your personal and business goals. If you have a ‘Yes’ list that is disproportionately longer than your ‘No’ list then you have a focus problem. Saying ‘No’ to things does not mean you are choosing not to live a life of yes but that you pay more attention and are more intentional about the things you say ‘yes’ to.

As a developer how many product modifications did you say ‘No’ to? Did it delay shipping your product?

As a salesperson how many meetings with a ‘not-so-prospective’ client did you say ‘No’ to? Did you grab the coffee anyway, at the loss of time for prospecting other clients, when you ‘knew’ the deal was not going to happen but still hoped it would?

As a CEO how many times did you change your strategy because that next and new partnership opportunity was going to ‘make’ your business? 

As marketing manager how many new growth hacking campaigns did you say ‘no’ to?

After our chat I got back to the office and compiled a ‘No’ list. A quick assessment highlighted what I knew but showed there was more work to be done: my focus had increased as the year wore on but I had said yes to way too many things. We’d moved from experimenting with 10 different strategies to running more experiments for 3 strategic directions (all feeding into our one goal for the business).

Your focus is tied directly to how many things you choose to do. Stop lying to yourself and get to work on the things you say yes to and commit to doing and doing well. You and your business will thank you for it at the end of next year.

Happy Holidays!

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