Lack of focus is killing your growth
Are you focused on what really matters? Or are you addicted to the busy?
👋 Hey, Kasey here! Welcome to this week’s ✨ High Growth Founders✨ newsletter. Every email is full of actionable content designed to help you grow your self and your business. 👇
High Growth Founders Episode of the Week:
In this episode, I share what is the biggest startup growth scam out there. It’s one that is far too common, tricking way too many of us. I’ll share what the scam is, how to avoid it, and what to do instead.
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Growth Lesson of the Week:
Perhaps the hardest part of entrepreneurship — of life really — is that at any given moment there are a thousand things you could be doing, a thousand people and priorities demanding your attention, a thousand directions you could pursue.
Plus, most of us were drawn to entrepreneurship because we see opportunity everywhere and we want the freedom to pursue it. This is a recipe for shiny thing syndrome.
Wikipedia Definition: Shiny object syndrome, also called "SOS" is a pop-cultural, psychological concept where people focus on a shiny, new object, in other words whatever is most current, trendy, or the latest concept, regardless of how valuable or helpful it may ultimately be.
What separates successful entrepreneurs from those treading water in a sea of frustration is focus. The ability to shut out the noise and distraction to concentrate on the few activities and priorities in your business that can make the biggest difference.
I have always struggled with this. People often marvel at how productive I am, how much I am able to get done, and how many different projects, startups, and clients I work with.
But they often don’t see how many balls I drop, how many personal projects get ignored, how messy my house is.
My addiction to busy-ness does not serve my long-term goals. It doesn’t get me closer to where I want to be or who I want to become. Learning to develop greater focus in my life and business has been my greatest ongoing challenge, but also the source of my most productive and rewarding progress.
Over the years, I’ve read many books on this subject and one that delivered profound transformation for me was Essentialism by Greg McKeown. Re-reading his book has inspired this post, but I’ve included lessons from other works and a whole heap of reflection on my own life.
Here are the principles that have made the biggest difference in getting un-busy and focusing on the essential:
#1. Develop a personal mission statement.
I appreciate the Massively Transformative Purpose (MTP) framework developed by Steven Kotler and Peter Diamandis in their book Bold.
“Massively means large and audacious. Transformative means being able to bring significant change to an industry, community, or the planet. And Purpose? A clear why behind the work being done.”
Your MTP might be about transforming your life or the lives of your family members. But it needs to be motivating to the point where it will encourage you to make difficult choices in order to further that mission.
I’ll be clear, there’s no way I could narrow down my life to one MTP. I am interested in too many things and feel that the inclusion of more than one MTP actually furthers the others. In fact, you will likely have 2-4 MTPs.
The key is to narrow them down to their essential component. It’s not about being a one-trick-pony, but about being focused enough to achieve measurable progress in a few critical areas, instead of incremental progress in a myriad of disparate directions.
As Greg McKeown describes in his seminal book Essentialism, the point is to make one decision that automatically makes 1000 decisions. Your PMS becomes the rubric by which you judge everything in your life.
Does a new project, activity, or event further your mission or does it distract you from it?
Once you’ve spent some time thinking through your MTPs and write your personal mission statement, write it down. Be deliberate about every single word. Feel confident in your final mission statement.
Then write it somewhere you can look at it every day. When a new opportunity arises, look at that statement. Does this new opportunity further your mission or not? Be ruthless.
#2. Know your High Hard Goals
High Hard Goals is another term I took from Steven Kotler, but this one is from his book Art of the Impossible (a recent favorite of mine). Once you know your Personal Mission Statement and the MTPs within it, you need to identify the big, hairy, audacious goal that is your current focus for that mission.
Your Personal Mission Statement is usually talking about a big, far-reaching vision. Your HHGs are the individual steps that will get you closer to furthering that mission. And I want to be clear, you will also likely break your HHGs down into several, smaller components.
For example, one of my missions is to become a published author, writing books that inspire people to transform their lives. That means one of my HHGs is to land my first publishing deal. Because I’ve done my research, I know that to land a publishing deal, I need to build my audience to prove I can sell a book. I also need to improve my writing. So I write this newsletter to do both.
Can you identify the HHGs to further your mission and the steps you need to take to achieve those goals?
Once you have those goals chosen and an outline of those steps, you have a much clearer rubric for deciding if a new opportunity will further your mission or simply distract you.
#3. Make “No” your default choice.
One of my biggest challenges is that I love helping people. This means I struggle to turn down people’s requesst for my time or attention.
But I’ve realized that often when people ask, they don’t really have a clear plan for how to make the most use of my time. And they don’t really appreciate it either.
Or I take on a new project because I see hope and opportunity in their vision and I want to help. But I don’t recognize that my help isn’t what they need to be successful.
Sometimes my help doesn’t further my mission or theirs.
So how do I solve this problem? I have decided to make “no” my default. Someone (sometimes me) needs to convince me to take on a new project.
I have started to ask follow-up questions to decide if it’s worth turning a “no” into a “yes.”
Is this aligned with my Personal Mission Statement?
Will this project or activity help me achieve the High Hard Goals I’ve identified for my Personal Missions?
Can I provide the help they need? Really?
Yes, part of my mission is to help Founders build successful, impactful companies. But sometimes the stress and anxiety of providing incremental help to a single Founder negatively impact my ability to serve Founders on a grander scale.
Every decision you make has a trade-off.
But don’t worry, “What will I give up by saying no?”
Instead, think, “What can I go BIG on by creating more space in my life?”
#4. Cut your losses.
Sunk cost bias is one of the greatest sources of wasted time, money, and resources.
What is sunk cost bias, you might ask?
Individuals commit the sunk cost fallacy when they continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort) (Arkes & Blumer, 1985). This fallacy, which is related to loss aversion and status quo bias, can also be viewed as bias resulting from an ongoing commitment. (From behavioraleconomics.com)
This is when you keep investing time, money, and resources into a project that deep down you know won’t be successful, or that isn’t further your personal mission, because you’re already invested. Sometimes this is because you feel like you’d be wasting already invested resources. But sometimes it’s because you’re too damn nice!
The problem is we over-value things we own (or are already invested in) and under-value things we don’t own.
Next time you have even an inkling of doubt that a project is furthering your mission, ask yourself, “If I weren’t already involved in this project, how much time, money, or energy would I invest to secure this opportunity?”
Most of the time, the answer is a bit depressing, and you quickly know exactly what you need to do.
Hell, just thinking about this made me realize there is a project from which I need to disengage.
#5. Become the editor of your life.
The goal of an editor is to decide which details to include and which to eliminate to produce a stronger overall creation. They keep the big picture in mind and carefully select every detail to ensure each adds to the overall vision.
You can be this person in your life. If you think about the person you want to become, the missions you want to further, the life you want to live, what stays and what goes?
When I take a more artistic view of my life, I naturally become more discerning in what goes and what stays.
Can you think of your life as a masterpiece? A rich, complex tapestry of people, activities, and efforts whose beauty you must cultivate and protect?
What about your current life would remain? What would be eliminated?
I know it can feel terrifying to turn down offers and decline opportunities. Trust me. I get it. A little too well.
But what I keep reminding myself and what I have learned over and over again is that when your world is filled with mediocre projects, you won’t be ready and able to accept the perfect ones.
Again, don’t think about what you must give up. Think about what you can go BIG on.
What do you want to go big on in this life? What’s stopping you from doing it?
Growth Tool I Love:
I just discovered one of the coolest tools I’ve ever seen. It’s a super-easy way to systematize and increase your referrals. After talking to their Founder and seeing a demo, I immediately became a partner. I’ve already referred 6 friends and clients and each one sent me an immediate follow-up message thanking me.
They said customers are getting on average 12 referrals from their customers. 12!!!
If you want to check it out, reply to this message and I’ll refer you. Yes, I’ll get a small finder’s fee, but the real benefit is you’ll get a call with their Founder, and you’ll get to experience it the way your customers will.
A Big Thank You!
I just wanted to send a big heartfelt thank you to all of you reading this newsletter every week and subscribing to the podcast. We launched in the top 100 of Entrepreneurship podcasts on Apple last week!
I actually made it to #62, but of course, I forgot to take a screenshot! Dang it!
Seriously, your support means the world.
If there is a Founder who you think would benefit from this newsletter, please share it with them.
In Love and Growth,