If you want exponential progress, there’s one big shift that you need to make.
Almost every entrepreneur and CEO I speak to gets it and admits it’d be a game-changer, but they’ve still not done it. It’s simple:
If you want breakthrough results, you have to do fewer things, better.
In this article I want to help you internalise WHY you need to make this happen.
My hope is you’ll become more committed to making the necessary shifts in your leadership so you can create the exponential impact you’re capable of.
Doing fewer things means you demand more from your time and attention
Scarcity creates value. When you create scarcity in your own life and business (a maximum number of projects you do, meetings you attend, or hours you work) then you’ll place a higher value on that, your standards will rise, and your trajectory will shift.
For example, when I decided to limit the number of 1:1 clients I work with, the value of those slots skyrocketed. I could no longer ‘squeeze an extra client in,’ so the opportunity cost of each client became clear. I had to ask: “Is this client exciting enough, profitable enough, ambitious enough for me to give them a precious slot?”
What is one area in your life or business where you can impose scarcity to increase value?
Doing fewer things means that mastery becomes attainable
If Michael Jordan attempted to master football as well as basketball, he’d have become a master at neither. If Freddie Mercury had attempted to master philosophy as well as singing, he’d have been mediocre at both.
For example, author Benjamin Hardy recently stopped posting to his popular YouTube channel, preferring instead to double-down on writing books (his area of focus and mastery). This is a great example of doing fewer things, better, in order to shoot for exponential impact.
As another example, after years of dabbling with various content strategies I decided to double-down on making the Xquadrant Insider, my weekly newsletter, the go-to resource for CEOs and leaders who want 10X results and a legacy of exponential impact.
What is one area where you are drawn to pursue mastery?
Doing fewer things allows you to break through the ‘bar of remarkability’
The Bar of Remarkability is a concept that I learned and adapted from marketing experts Andrew and Pete at Atomic:
The Bar of Remarkability is the standard at which exponential things start to happen.
This is the reason mastery is so important: Get into the top 1%, and people start to notice. Instead of being in the crowd, you’re standing out.
So cut back on 90% of your projects to double down on 10% and break through the Bar of Remarkability.
Despite what we like to think, overnight “viral success” is often the result of years of effort and pursuit of mastery. For example, one of the fastest-growing podcasts in recent time is The Diary of a CEO, but when you look at the effort put into the show you understand why. They A/B test one hundred social media banners before promoting each episode!
So, put in more effort on fewer things if you want exponential impact. As YouTube phenomenon Mr Beast explained, “if you get people to click your video 10% more than mine, and watch it 10% longer, you don’t get 10% more views. You get more like four times the views.”
My former employer Cisco lost its way at one point when it decided to pursue some 40-50 corporate priorities. With so many projects, everything was a priority and so nothing was! Performance suffered, and a year or to later the CEO scaled it back to five or so. Better to focus and hit the Bar of Remarkability where it counts!
Instead of diluting your efforts, what are maximum 3 projects that you are committed to pushing over the Bar of Remarkability?
Nail them, get the outsized rewards, and move on.
Case study: “I’m most successful by the pool”
One of my CEO clients learned this lesson when he realised his most impactful call of the year had been whilst he was on holiday, after a day by the pool!
He stepped away from his family an hour beforehand and went to his room where he prepared and got himself ‘in the zone’.
And he nailed the call: he was fresh and focused – he hit the Bar of Remarkability, and landed the largest ever contract for his business as a result.
In contrast, he’d had a disappointing meeting with investors a few weeks earlier: he flew in, was distracted with operational tasks right up to the meeting, and then he failed to convince the investors to support a new project.
Looking back he said, “it was clear. I was juggling too many things and wasn’t focused enough. The result wasn’t remarkable enough for them to invest further.”
As a result of these experiences, we built a weekly schedule for him with just 12 “impact slots” (three per day over four days) – surrounded with down time for mental/physical preparation and post-session refection.
Choosing how to use those precious few slots can be hard (that’s the point!), but the impact he makes as a leader has skyrocketed.
If you want exponential impact as a leader, do fewer things better
In this article we’ve reminded ourselves why ‘less is more’ when it comes to leadership.
Over to you:
How can you do 'fewer things better' in your life, leadership and business?
Where is the Bar of Remarkability that you need to attain?
And what needs to go, so you can free up time to achieve that?
Resources to help you to fewer things, better
As well as the Xquadrant Insider, here are some helpful resources you might like to go deeper into creating strategic focus and doing fewer things, better: