If simply working hard was the key to success, many of you reading this would probably own an island just like Sir Richard.
I don’t by the way. That’s not to say I wont at some stage but as things are now, I don’t have a beach I can truly call mine!
High-achievement, Super-achievement and the Power of ‘No’
I know quite a few high-achievers. But there’s a subtle difference between these folks and super-achievers. Darren Hardy, one of my favourite authors, tells the following story.
He’d interviewed Sir Richard for Success Magazine and a company had subsequently asked him to contact Mr. Branson to see if he would speak at an event for which they were willing to pay $250,000 for a one-hour speech. Sir Richard declined. The company wanted him really badly and they eventually raised the fee to $500,000. They also said he would be collected by private jet and wouldn’t be on the ground for more than a few hours total…But still the answer was a polite ‘no.’
They then asked How much would it take? To which the answer was “he won’t come for any amount of money!” The response from his assistant continued to explain that Sir Richard had three strategic priorities for this year and all his efforts are focused on those. Nothing else.
Now, I can imagine what you’re thinking: He’s Sir Richard Branson, of course he can turn down $500k! But keeping things in proportion to your own situation. Think about your last week. How many things did you say ‘no’ to if they were not directly relevant to your progress now. (And how many times did you say yes to things that were unrelated to your priorities).
Distractions, Significance and Your Brain…
(…and my brain is wired the same way as yours!)
Our brains seek out danger, bad news and novelty (the ‘new thing’). For many, the focus on novelty borders on addiction – social media has added fuel to the fire here! We are continually asking the environment “what’s new?” We also want to be needed and our need for significance can mean us getting involved with much that we don’t need to or shouldn’t be any where near.
Saying ‘yes’ includes paying attention to some or all of these too…
unnecessary meetings (either internally or with clients)
emails (many of which you probably shouldn’t be receiving anyway)
social media (in all its forms)
news (print, online, TV)
Saying no is much of what is at the heart of super-achievement. The ability to say no to almost all but the most important priorities at any given period aids extraordinary focus: Steve Jobs would spend three hours per day, every day on his number one priority.
Lets step away from island-owning for a while. What is the next level of performance in your firm?
a key person (people) to recruit
a key process to improve
a new product to role out
a revenue increment
a gross margin improvement
a cashflow increase
Whatever it is, estimate how much time you’re spending on actions that directly lead to that one result you picked. How many hours each day, each week? I’ll wager it’s probably less than you think!
The Main Thing…
"The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing…"
I don’t know who came up with this saying but I first read it in one of Stephen Covey’s books (I think it was First Thing’s First). It’s masterful in its simplicity but incredibly powerful if diligently applied.
Take time to figure out what is the most important priority now, and devote the majority of your focus on it during the day. And whether you’re a morning person or an evening person, my bet will also be that – whatever time you start work – you’ll get more done by focusing on the main thing first …before you pick up the newspaper or flick open your web-browser.
The source of this is story is unclear but…A wise man explains to his student that inside him there are two wolves fighting. One of them represents what you want to be doing and the other stands for what you should be doing. The student asks which one will win?
The wise man answers…”The one you feed!”
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