Warren Buffett and Bill Gates were speaking. A member of the audience asked “What is the key to your success?”  Without hesitation, both Bill and Warren responded “Focus”.

Focussed Sunlight

The Power of Focus

In 1985 Steve Jobs was sacked from the company that he founded. 11 years later he returned to a deeply troubled company. Upon arrival he found Apple had hundreds of products accross many business lines.  He reduced the entire product range of Apple down to 4 individual products.  Eventually he accepted 6 products.  Every person in Apple was assigned to one of these product groups – there were to be no cross product responsibilities – no room for excuses. Your product fails, you fail. You don’t get to jump ship. Today, Apple, the worlds most valuable company is focussed on 13 products: 2 laptops, 3 desktops, 4 iPods, iPhone, 2 iPads and Apple TV.

I have a tendency to start multiple projects.  I don’t naturally focus.  I don’t naturally do the last mile.

More Balloons

Seth Godin talks about two metaphors for starting projects:  Blowing up a balloon, or squeezing the plunger on a syringe.  It is easy to start squeezing the plunger on a syringe, but it receives increasing resistance as it progresses.  In contrast, as you blow a balloon, the first breath is the hardest.  If you get the first breath into the balloon, it is guaranteed that you will finish.  All the difficult, hard resistance is up front.

My problem with projects is that they are like syringes.  They are easy to start and face increasing resistance as I approach completion.

How do I make starting projects more like blowing balloons?  Move the hard, difficult part up front?

The difference between writing a book and writing a blog is that my blog provides regular sense of progress, my book seems to go from 95% complete to re-writing from scratch every 2 months.

On Focus:

Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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