I’ve been sharing some of my “ten lessons from ten years in business” here on the blog the past couple weeks. So far it’s included Putting Values First, Putting Yourself First, Two Types of Focus and the Power of Thank You.
Today’s lesson I’ve learned is about what strategy really means. Many people equate strategy with prioritization. But the mere act of prioritization is about stack-ranking and doesn’t often include eliminating priorities from the list.
It’s taken me far more than 10 years to not just figure this lesson out (it sounds simple and intuitive) but to also follow it more regularly.
Making a prioritized list is fairly easy. Put the most important stuff at the top and the less important stuff farther down. Far more difficult is the act of making a dramatically shorter list.
You don’t do yourself, your team or your business any favors by keeping the strategic to-do list just as long. That’s not how you focus effectively.
Strategy is about choosing. It’s about eliminating. It’s about making bets on what you believe (through research, experience and/or intuition) will most effectively, efficiently and successfully help you achieve your goals.
Strategy requires letting go of less-important, lower-potential ideas. And that is difficult. Leaving those lower priorities on the list makes you feel better, it feels like a hedge, but it really just spreads your attention and energy far too thin. It compromises your ability to focus on and achieve success on the priorities at the very top of your list.
I don’t believe there’s a “magic number” of priorities that equates to successful strategy-making. But I do believe that it’s far less than what you may be trying to tackle right now.
Make the hard choices and focus on fewer things. Be smart and strategic about where you put your time and energy. Then go crush it.