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Cedric Chin

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Focus is saying no to good ideas

This is one of those pieces of advice that is easy to say, but hard to do. Cedric Chin:

The only problem with this advice is that it’s trite — it sounds obvious; people don’t take it seriously; it’s a cliché. But it really isn’t any of those things, not if you’re actually trying to put it to practice. One of the more interesting things about focus is that you can see it in good operators, if you know how to look. But it happens to also be really difficult to do.

Instead of articulating a fully-fleshed out theory of focus, I want to do something different here. I’m going to tell you a handful of stories. This should do more to illustrate the nature of focus in business than anything else that I can say. Let’s get started.

Some good stories follow. I’ll just add that good ideas is just one category of things that focus means saying “no” to. Another major category is good opportunities.

When you’re first getting started in your career, you are short on opportunities and long on time. But success breeds success. At a certain point, that relationship flips and you have more opportunities (actual, good ones) than you have time. Saying “no” to the wrong ones and “yes” to the right ones is another lesson in and of itself, but the same thing is in danger: your focus.

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