We have all known the power of focus to succeed. But not many of us understand what it really means to focus. In this really short blog, Shane Parish makes a powerful point drawing from the life of Steve Jobs, as shared by Jobs’ Chief Design Officer and the man behind those cool designs of Apple products – Jonny Ive.
“Anyone can say no to bad ideas, but only a focused person can say no to good ideas. Focus is about saying no. When talking about one of the biggest lessons he learned from Steve Jobs, Jonny Ive said it was focus.
….Jobs would often test people, asking them, “how many things have you said no to?” Ive was up to the task of answering, only he didn’t mean it, and Jobs read right through him.
“I would have these sacrificial things, because I wanted to be very honest about it. And so I’d say, “Well, I said no to this and no to that.” But he knew that I wasn’t vaguely interested in doing those things anyway, so there was no real sacrifice.
What focus means is saying no to something that you, with every bone in your body, you think is a phenomenal idea and you wake up thinking about it, but you say no to it because you’re focusing on something else.”
A world with abundant opportunities encourages poverty of commitment. And without commitment, you can’t have focus.”
Shane talks about the organisational context of focus:
“The tendency of people and organizations is to lose focus. So one way to identify outstanding people is by their ability to commit and focus on something for a long period of time.
The only people you should hire are focused ones. The only competitors you should worry about are the focused ones.
People naturally lose focus when they forget that focus means saying no to good opportunities and good people. Average ideas are everywhere, and they try to pull you in. The more successful you are, the more people will want to work with you. If you start saying yes to average ideas, you quickly lose the space and time you need to execute on great ones.”
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