Giving Up a Million-Dollar Idea …

One of my favorite pieces of advice is to focus on one thing and don't get distracted by anything else. But it’s something I have to continuously remind myself of. (I especially have this problem when I’m thinking about the new year and trying decide which resolutions to make.)

Just yesterday, I was struggling with how to finish yet another personal project. I was sure this venture would be a million-dollar idea if I could just find the time and motivation.

I took a break to read some of Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success by Ken Segall, and I came across a quote that solved my issue.

In 1997, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs said:

"People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things."

If you're constantly flipping from one idea to the next, never getting anything finished, and struggling to focus, maybe you should read that quote again.

It’s possible that I do have a million-dollar idea, or maybe my idea would crash and burn. Either way, I need to focus on the other things I've started – like my writing business – to keep my life as simple as possible.

I know the path I’m on will lead to success because I’m no longer trying to reinvent the wheel. I just need to focus and stick to the plan.

As you head into the weekend, think about the things on your to-do list or your pending resolutions. How many of them relate to your big life goals? How many of them take focus away from the things you really want to achieve?

Spend some time this weekend streamlining your plans, tasks, and goals. Get rid of anything that makes your business more complicated than it needs to be.

To help you, here’s one last story from Segall’s book …

Segall was once in a brainstorming session with Steve Jobs, debating how many features to include in an iMac commercial.

Now, as a writer, you probably know that focusing on one idea is best. But for some reason, Steve wanted to include five points.

Another guy in the room, Lee Clow, crumpled five sheets of paper into balls and tossed one to Steve. Steve easily caught it.

Lee said, “That’s a good ad.”

Then Lee said, “Now catch this,” and threw all five balls to Steve. Steve didn’t catch any.

“That’s a bad ad,” said Lee.

The simpler the better.

If you’re writing an ad, you want to focus on one main point – or Big Idea – so the reader will understand and remember it.

If you’re dealing with your life, you want to focus on one thing at a time. It’s much more difficult to try to catch five balls at once. Choose just one, and do it really, really well.

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Published: December 21, 2012

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