How (and Why) to Say No to Great Ideas
You can’t do everything. But you have ideas.
In the Founder Phase of entrepreneurship, you’re busy. You’re delivering your service. In the tiny cracks of daylight between coaching clients, eating and sleeping, you might eke out some time to work on new ideas. These could be:
- Making a new schedule.
- Adding a nutrition service.
- Selling more PT.
- Designing new T-shirts.
- Reorganizing your schedule.
- Thinking about adding a kids program.
Which ones should you pursue with the very limited time you have?
In the Farmer Phase, your staff brings you ideas. Some of them are really good; and you want your staff to feel important and empowered. You have more time, but the way you invest your time is even more important because the outcome affects the whole team.
Which ideas will leverage that time best?
In the Tinker Phase, your potential partners pitch you ideas. Now you have to decide between great ideas and amazing ideas. The best choices are less obvious. Most of them will make you money, but all of them will take your attention.
Which will you invest your focus into?
In the Thief Phase, you’ll have to consider the needs of your community. But no matter how large your platform, you’ll never be able to fill all the gaps.
How do you decide what kind of contribution to make? How will you invest your legacy?
Focus and Focus Some More
I get pitched great ideas every week. And I have some good ideas myself (if you don’t believe me, look at my list of 70+ domains that I’ve registered on GoDaddy). But I can’t do them all. As my mentor, Dan Martell, once told me:
“People do this stuff because they don’t trust that their primary thing is going to be awesome. They lack trust in their own ability to execute on Plan A.”
In other words, we sabotage ourselves because we don’t really think our first idea is going to work. Instead, we all need to focus on one idea at a time.
But how do you stay focused? How do you overcome FOMO on a new idea? How do you stay the course when new ideas are super exciting?
Send Your Toys to the Island
In our businesses, we put our great ideas on a list. We call that list, “The Island of Misfit Toys” (the term comes from my favorite Christmas cartoon).
When an idea goes on that list, it means “I like this. I want to do this. But not right now.”
In his amazing book “Anything You Want,” Derek Sivers makes the clear point: You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. At least not right now.
Sivers’ point isn’t that you need to make a long list of “someday” projects. His point is that making a list will:
- Get the idea logjam out of your head to make room for even more ideas (which you’ll add to the list, too).
- Remove the distraction of fear (you’re probably scared you’ll forget your great idea unless you act on it now).
- Allow the truly best ideas to shine through by attrition.
I’ve forgotten most of my great ideas. Sometimes I comb through my past lists (and my domain registry) and think, “What the hell was that?” And that’s OK, because it means my attention has been captured by even larger ideas and opportunities.
You don’t have to run at full speed all the time. Waiting for the right idea—at the right time—usually means you won’t miss it when it comes.
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