How to Focus On The Most Important Things in Your Business

How to Focus On The Most Important Things in Your Business

Are you a Beyonce fan? In this podcast episode, I am talking about Beyonce. I have to be transparent. I don’t listen to her music. But, there is a meme that I have seen that reminds people that you have the same 24 hours in a day that Beyonce does. If you want to be like Beyonce, I will teach you the one tactic to help you focus on the most important things in your business. 

First of all, it’s important to understand that you don’t have the same 24 hours in a day as Beyonce. Most humans are just accepting the noise and distractions around them every day. They are slogging around in the mediocrity and status quo. The good news is that you don’t need Beyonce’s wealth level to perform at a higher caliber. You just need to think differently about your performance. So, let’s dive into what that means.

Is Anyone Really Doing It All?

Many times in my career, someone has asked me how I “do it all.” I have two kids and have excelled at my career, but I always answer that I don’t do it all. That typically leads to some confusion and head-scratching because, from their perspective, it appeared that I was. That led me to look at the dynamic around doing it all. 

Studying behaviors requires you first to define the behavior so you know what to measure and observe. It’s called operational definitions. I thought about how to operationally define the “all” in “doing it all.” In doing that, I found the secret to my success in being able to operationally define things that don’t have observable behaviors.

I was doing my all. If we step back and look at our lives, each one is an experiment, and no two people are the same. Different things make up our identities. That means we can each define what our “all” is. That gets you out of comparisons or aiming at the wrong goals. 

Your 24 hours will differ from Beyonce’s because you are not Beyonce. She likely has 100% more resources than you have, but she is also a human. She puts her pants on one leg at a time. For her to perform the way she does, she’s had to find her “all,” or what is referred to in business as the “critical few.” 

Define The Critical Few

Your critical few are a set of behaviors that lead to the results you want to achieve. Creating your own critical few will help to quiet the noise and distractions and improve your focus. With fewer irons in the fire, you’ll have better-quality results. It’s all about prioritization. 

I’ve spent the last two decades of my career helping others filter through the noise and assess priorities. It’s necessary to actually complete the important work that drives key outcomes in an organization. I give leaders five bullet points to define their critical few. Many of them struggle with this constraint of just five items, but narrowing it down allows us to work smarter, not harder.

Questions to Ask When Compiling Your Critical Few:

  • What’s the 20% that you do that leads to 80% of your results?
  • What do you hate doing that drains you of energy? How does that impact your results?
  • What is something only you can do because it’s a unique skill set you’ve honed over time?
  • What do you do because it brings you a sense of deep fulfillment?
  • What do you get paid to do?

The last question is important when prioritizing. People should know exactly what they were hired to do. Other things can get piled on and added over time, but knowing your main role is important. For business owners, the question changes a bit to, “What gets you paid?” 

I worked with a CEO on their critical few. The first one was financial backing. This person used their deep financial reserve to capitalize their business and credit score to access capital when needed. The second was to coach and develop the executive team. The third was to make the final strategic and financial decisions. The fourth was to develop and maintain high-level relationships with other CEOs of companies in their network. The final item was to identify acquisition opportunities when in growth mode. 

The CEO had many other things on their plate, but when they felt overwhelmed or pulled in too many directions, they could return to this list and prioritize. You might do things that aren’t on your critical few, but the goal is to spend most of your time on these five bullet points. 

Final Advice to Get Started on Your Critical Few

Use your critical few to get grounded and provide a foundation. Print out the things you’ve written down and put them up in your office so you can look at them daily. Update it a few times a year if things change. 
Many clients become resistant when creating their critical few. Don’t do it all in one session. Make self-reflection a habit, and ask yourself good questions on a regular basis. Aim to get to a starting point with your list, perfect it, and revise it over time. Once you have your list, I’d love to see it and cheer you on. Reach out and share your critical few, and let’s make this year your boldest yet.

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