Focus Is Saying No

I came across this fantastic old video while I was procrastinating on the internet today - here's the link for those of you that can bear the crappy resolution.

For those of you like me, who actually can't stand videos, I'll provide the synopsis:

Steve Jobs from Apple, circa 1997, is hosting a session at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference about OpenDoc, a failed idea from the 90s all about creating documents without proprietary software holding us back.

The initiative didn't work, for a number of reasons, but Steve's message and approach is so frank and refreshing. He openly admits that Apple got out of their lane and became wrapped up in activities that didn't take them closer to their goals.

Despite being 20 years old, the message in this video has never been more critical.

As we feel compelled to do more and more, often with less, it's so important to remember that effective prioritisation has to mean saying no. In an era of innovation and creativity and disruption and excitement, it's comforting to know that you don't have to do everything -and that actually, you shouldn't.

I have been thinking about this idea a lot lately - despite practising strategic focus and prioritisation with my clients, I am guilty of getting distracted and tangled up in different projects and directions that don't take me closer to my vision. I've been inspired by the new J.Cole album which has the master message "Choose Wisely" but I like the retro Steve Jobs take on it even better:

"People think that focusing is about 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."