In 2010 Tim Cook, now CEO at Apple, offered an interesting revelation at a Goldman Sachs technology conference. As he explained, “We say NO to good ideas every day. We say NO to great ideas in order to keep the amount of things we focus on very small in number so that we can put enormous energy behind the ones we CHOOSE.”
He went on to say that because they make a limited number of products, the average conference room table could probably hold one of every product that Apple produces. That is a remarkable claim, considering Apple’s revenue for fiscal 2015 was more than $233 billion.
Why is it important, not just for Apple but for every other company as well, to say no? Because energy flows where the focus goes. In all my years of building sales teams, our success came equally from the opportunities we did not pursue as much as the ones we did. [bctt tweet=”Energy flows where the focus goes.”]
In sales, there are two winners in every deal. The one who wins the deal and the one who gets out early. By getting out early, you can put your resources towards an opportunity where you have a higher probability of winning. That’s what Tim Cook is talking about. He is professing the wisdom of walking away from good, even from great, so you can focus on your priorities and create something extraordinary.
How do we go about identifying and committing to a specific set of priorities? I believe the following steps will help.
- Get clear on what you want and why. Many of my clients want their organization to be world class. They have an infinite number of reasons why but often it’s because they feel their clients deserve it and their employees aspire to be the best.
- Ask yourself this question: “What do I need to do, have, or fix to make major progress towards my vision?” If you are not getting where you want to go, often the answer lies in talent or structure. It may be a matter of hiring, firing, reorganizing, equipping, implementing a new system, or fostering new thinking. Or any combination of these.
- Analyze how much time you are devoting to your priorities. Most clients know they need to invest more time, but they are too busy reacting to urgent issues rather than driving initiatives that will make their teams more productive.
- Make a list of the activities distracting you from what is most important. Identify the things you should keep doing and the ones someone else should handle for you. Which items can only you do? Keep in mind that if someone can do something at least 80 percent as well as you, you should feel free to delegate it. Focus on those tasks that give you and your team the biggest reward.
- Resolve to rise above the chaos by empowering others and developing the discipline to spend the vast majority of your time — 80 percent is about right — on those priorities that will make the biggest long-term impact on you and your organization.
There are always good opportunities to pursue. Organizations that will reach their potential are those that resist temptation, stay true to their purpose and pursue only those opportunities that will enable them to be extraordinary.
What good ideas have you passed on so that you could be extraordinary?
[bctt tweet=”What good ideas have you passed on so that you could be extraordinary?”]