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Inner Game

Do Less, Be More, and Destroy That Which Isn't Excellent

destroying that which isn't excellentToday’s world is busy. Really busy. We work hard, make money, spend money, stay up late, rise early, achieve, create, build, and destroy – Only to do it all over again. The daily life of a real estate investor can be all over the map, and the demands we place on ourselves can be intense to say the least.

Doesn't it make you wonder…

If we did fewer things, would we do them better?

What if, rather than being all over the place, you could throw your focus into a few things (or even just one thing – crazy, I know) and become really, really, ridiculously good at it? Master it even?

What if, rather than working so hard and spreading yourself so thin, you were able to really drill into what matters most... I mean clear out all the second tier stuff and really apply yourself to your highest and best use?

Would your results be better or worse than they are right now? Would you progress faster toward your goals, or slower? Would you produce a more or less excellent result?

Let’s all slow down for a minute, take a deep breath together and think about this…

The ONE Thing

Most of you know by now, I have written other lessons and become pretty obsessed with the concept of raw focus, also known as “hyper focus.” Since my commitment to this work ethic, I have enjoyed some tremendous strides in producing excellent work and enjoying a better quality of life. I guess I have become “hyper focused” on perfecting the art form of Hyper focus – ha!

I just wrapped up one of the best, most powerful books I've read in years – The ONE Thing by Gary Keller – and it boils right down to the very roots of this concept. Keller writes:

YOU WANT LESS. You want fewer distractions and less on your plate. The barrage of emails, texts, calls, and meetings keeps you from your most important work. Simultaneously demands of work and family take a toll. What’s the cost? Second rate work, missed deadlines, smaller paychecks – and lots of stress.

AND YOU WANT MORE. You want more productivity from your work. More income for a better lifestyle. You want more satisfaction from life, and more time for yourself, your family, and your friends.

But how can you have both – LESS AND MORE?

Ouch! That question kinda stings a little, doesn't it?

Focus = Potency

FocusWhile recently enjoying an Inc. Magazine article about Blogger and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, (I hear he also crafts a fine whiskey) I was struck by the way he reflected this in his own powerful way :

When you're obsessing about a problem, you reach insights about how to solve that problem. If you have too many things to think about, you'll get to a superficial solution and not a brilliant one. The things that keep nagging at you are the ones worth exploring.

How many brilliant moments have been lost in the clutter of your mind and your day to day, scattered-all-over-the-place-ness? Consider, how much has your progress been neutered simply by the very nature of having too much on your plate, and trying to accomplish too many things, in too many directions at once?  How much raw potency could lie waiting for you, if you could only find a way to scrape away the non-essentials and really focus on the essentials?

Yes, focus equals potency.

“So sure…” I hear you saying, “…sounds great. But how can we even begin the process of figuring out how to do actually do this?”

Let’s start with one of the most powerful focusing tools I've ever used…

The Focusing Question

focus on the ballWe turn for a moment back to my aforementioned new, favorite book, in which Mr. Keller begins tackling this by first debunking a number of popular lies we all too easily believe, such as…

  • “Everything matters equally.” (No, it doesn't)
  • “Multitasking is more productive and ideal.” (No, it isn't)
  • “You need a more balanced life.” (False – we need better ‘counter-balance’)

These and other entrepreneurial fallacies are dealt with head on in the first part of the book, and it’s eye-opening to say the least. But then we turn to the epicenter of The ONE Thing – an uncommon question that the entire rest of the book is focused on helping you learn how to answer…

What’s the ONE thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

It’s something Mr. Keller called “The Focusing Question”, and at first glance, it’s so seemingly simple that it’s raw power could be easily glossed over or dismissed by anyone who doesn't take the time to really ponder it. This would be a big mistake.

The Focusing Question can guide you through “big picture” questions on a macro level (What’s my vision? Where am I going? What do I really want to achieve?) and also at a granular, micro level as well (What should I do right now to be on the path to seeing the big picture? Where’s my target? What’s my highest and best use right at this moment?)

The Focusing Question helps you craft vision, helps map out your route, and helps you determine your very next steps in getting there. It helps you setup all the dominoes, then forces you to find the first domino and focus on it intently until you knock it over.

The Focusing Question also – and this is really important – ignores what is doable and drills you right down into focusing on what is necessary, to what truly matters. And when you learn how to do this, it can be like rocket fuel to your business and your life.

Mr. Keller submits that, “…Life is a question, and how we live it is our answer. How we phrase the questions we ask ourselves determines the answers that eventually become our life.” I believe The Focusing Question to be one of the highest quality questions you can challenge yourself with on a daily basis.

Hyper Focus: Genetically Excellent?

hyper focusInterestingly, hyper focus is often associated with autism and ADHD. Even so, you can’t argue that Forrest Gump didn't get anything accomplished, now can you?

And the guy from whom I first heard the phrase “hyper-focus” – Bob Norton – is one of the most wildly successful investors I know. He regularly bank 6 figures a month in his flipping business, and has a single personal assistant as his only employee to help make it happen. 

He also happens to be one of the most severely ADHD guys on the planet. And I mean certified. School was a nightmare for him…but as he got older, he learned how to leverage hyper-focus as a way to counterbalance his ADHD…and today he attributes it as the single, biggest reason for his massive success.

Interesting enough, scientists have now identified a mild genetic form of hyper-focus that can be traced back to the nomadic days. Studies actually show that this gene is passed on as a dominant trait through natural selection to aid survival. This concept, known as Hunter vs Farmer, suggests that hyper focus provides an advantage by keen senses to hunt prey and respond to predatory threats.

Although humans eventually settled as farmers, this dominant gene was still passed on and remains a dominant gene today. Hyper-focus may be the spark behind creative geniuses such as Byron, Picasso and even Kurt Cobain, claims one psychiatrist. He submit that it’s possible to identify such traits in an array of high impact, historical figures, also including Sir Walter Raleigh, Thomas Edison, Oscar Wilde, James Dean, Clark Gable and even Che Guevara.

So hopefully I've aptly made the point that it’s not only possible to “Do Less, Be More” but it’s a better, more enjoyable and highly fulfilling approach to life and business. It’s worth pursuing.

I also hope I've impressed upon you that, even if it doesn't seem intuitive or come naturally, learning to (i) use The Focusing Question to set (and reset) your priorities, and (ii) how to hyper-focus on your highest and best use, and what really matters most – these are two of your most important keys to the castle.

I want to challenge you with one more uncommon concept worth embracing – it’s related to all this, but also stands alone.

Destroying That Which Isn't Excellent

norris destroyerI was recently listening to a high-achiever in another industry share what he considered to be some of the biggest secrets to his success. I suddenly found myself struck by a statement he directly challenged the audience with:

“Destroy everything that's not excellent in your life.”

What an interesting concept. And at first glance, I’m not even sure it made sense to me really, but I was drawn in as he explained further.

When you’re faced with a decision to be involved in something – a project, a direction in business, how you spend your time, a new product, new deal, or whatever – make sure your answer either a “hell yes!” or a “no”.

I freaking love this.

So many times in life we get accustomed to doing things that are just OK... We say “yes” to far too many things, often because it just seems like a decent enough idea, or maybe we don’t have a clear, compelling enough reason to say no. Or maybe because it's comfortable, or even just because it's a habit.

This severely waters down your effectiveness, misdirects your attention, effort and time, and renders you far less potent than your potential. (Ha, that sounds funny to say…but it’s true!)

The fact is, life is just too dang short to be doing things that don’t matter that much. Whether it’s flat out wasteful stuff, like watching too much TV or surfing Facebook several times a day, or even just being involved in too many “good” things, at the sacrifice of really focusing on “greatness” in the things that matter most.

To be able to hyper-focus on greatness, you first need the clarity of knowing what you really want and what truly matters. That’s where The Focusing Question can help, and also I strongly recommend Lifeonaire.

But once you know, then next you need to learn how to eliminate (or destroy) those things in your life that distract you from the greatness you’re pursuing.

That’s not to say we shouldn't have fun and enjoy awesome leisure activities – that’s not what I’m suggesting at all. Learning how to really enjoy life and “play well” is part of what really matters, in my opinion. But defining what that really looks like with crystal clarity, then making only that vision your top priority – that’s what I’m talking about here.

If you're not doing things that help you and your family, and really move you forward into the directions you want to go, and forward into becoming more like an ideal version of yourself, closer to your family, closer to God, and happier about who you are than ever before...

...whatever you're doing that doesn't actively accomplish these things for you, should get cut right out of your life. That’s what I believe is meant by the challenge to “destroy that which isn't excellent”.

If you want to have a breakthrough, sometimes you have to break something.

So…how ya like them apples?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this. Please leave any thoughts or questions this might have stirred in you below. Let’s banter about this together. It’s a discussion worth continuing...

Do It To It! Immediate Action Steps

Identify your focuses. Ask yourself The Focusing Question, on a macro and micro level – “What’s the ONE thing I can do today for _____________ such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Learn to hyper-focus. Focus on accomplishing the things that matter most and have the biggest impact, even if it means letting other “doable” (but less excellent) things go undone.

Repeat this work ethic until it is habit and a way of life.

Read The One Thing by Gary Keller. Devour it. Just do it.

Make a list of things you probably shouldn't be doing. Rate the things that you're doing on a weekly basis, and judge/estimate the value of the time you're putting into certain things. Then destroy that which isn't excellent.


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