What gives great results? Always, a very few things. So the secret is in finding the few things that are really powerful — truly pivotal — which make the difference between success and failure. Care about those things. Care about nothing else. Do those things. Do nothing else. To the extent that you possibly can, focus your work and your life on those areas where the “payback factor” is huge. Actually, this principle holds true regardless of the task or challenge at hand. So the first step is to figure out the few vital things. In any task, most of the things that are done hardly matter. But a few things matter a great deal.
So, let’s say that you’re given a project at work — to win an important new customer...hire a new staff person...create an advertising campaign... organize a set of data...or whatever. There are a million and one ways you could try to do this. But most likely, very few of them stand much chance of producing extraordinary results. So focus on the one or two things with the most promise.
Step two is to cut out everything else. We always seem to be short of resources, whether it’s money, time, people, contacts, or energy. But the truth is, we’re not really short of these things at all. Most of the time we squander our resources and opportunities. And that happens because we’re not focused.
If we bore in on a few objectives, or better still on just one, we find we have loads of resources with which to pursue the goal. To do this, though, we need to stop wasting effort on things that don’t matter.
Why not give it a shot? Next time you have an important assignment or objective, work out the way to crack it, and then stop doing anything else. By abandoning the low payoff efforts and unrelated activities, you free up precious time you can use to do much more of the few things that truly matter. Let go of the trivial many. Focus on the vital few.