"If you have more than 3 priorities, then you have no priorities" – Jim Collins in Good to Great.
I have a lot of ideas, and a lot of projects I want to start. And yet, I know that focus is the key. I used to think I could just try a lot of things. You know – throw them up against the wall and see what sticks. But then I realized that's a way of rationalizing my doing a half-assed job at a lot of things and expecting luck to show up.
And yet, how can I just focus on one thing? That is so boring. I took a look at what I'm most excited about and what I need, and I came up with the The Three Point Focus Strategy…
1. The Bread and Butter (80% of time)
This is the focus that pays the bills. It's the area where you have the skills to deliver value to a customer consistently (and that customer may be your employer). You also have the passion to do it, so that you don't burn out. And lastly, there's a market for it. This is your top priority because without it, everything will turn to shit, fast. For me, this is my culture consulting business, and my first book, the Culture Blueprint. If you are having trouble with this as a business, check out Business Model Generation. If you are having trouble with this as an individual (employee or freelancer) then check out Business Model You. If you know what you want, but you're just having trouble getting a job, check out The Two Hour Job Search.
Now, something to note about the bread and butter. Even with passion, it can often come with challenges. When they come up, I think of this quote: "Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work." – Thomas Edison
2. The Innovation (10% of time)
Your innovation project is the one that you want to work on, but it's not fully developed yet, or there's not a market for it. You also may still be developing your skills in this area. If you're like me you probably have a lot of these, but the idea here is to pick just one. For me, that's an idea called "The Corporate Start-up." – It's all about ways for businesses to turn their brand itself into a product, and to turn cost centers into profit centers. It's not fully developed and I certainly can't start charging for it, so it's my innovation project.
3. The Fun (10% of time)
This is for the hare-brained ideas. The ones that make you laugh, the ones that are just ridiculous and yet they would be so much fun. You have absolutely no way of justifying your time on this except that it makes you smile and gives you energy. For me, this is a site called Dating is for Douchebags. It's all about how the current model of dating is totally flawed, and my ideas to re-invent it. I'm just having fun with it, and inviting others to contribute if they feel the same way.
So there you have it. Select your three to focus on, and give the majority of your time to number 1.
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