Say no if you want to focus

The dictionary offers many definitions for the word focus. In a business context, focus is a verb not a noun. One of my favorite definitions for focus is “adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.”

The reason this definition sticks out for me is its use of the word – prevailing. One of the biggest challenges we have in leading and operating an organization is reacting to all the ‘lights’ or possible opportunities we are faced with. This is the same issue in regards to selecting the most valuable idea to go fund. There are many opportunities to respond to, many ideas that arise from customer inquiries or internal planning meetings. Sometimes initiatives are pushed on us or decided upon with little data to support them. Other times we feel pressured to do what our competitors are doing so that we stay relevant. Whatever the motivation and the validity, only one or some are the ones that will drive the results and outcomes we need most.

It’s the art of choosing the ‘prevailing’ ones that make the difference. Being great at something means that we chose not to be good at several things.

“Focusing is about saying no.” – Steve Jobs


What is the prevailing idea, action or initiative that you know will require complete focus to succeed? If you don’t know then perhaps that is the indicator that focus isn’t well understood in your group just yet.

Related content