To Be Successful Do We All Need to Go on the Elimination Diet?
Yes (ok not literally — breathe)!
Warren Buffet famously said “[t]he difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
They eliminate anyone or any activity that doesn’t drive them toward their goals and create the most value. It’s about self-discipline. Hello, the elimination diet.
Take away all the likely culprits to see what is keeping you from your goals, making you feel sluggish or bloated (yay for minimalism a very Warren Buffet approach, c’mon he reportedly spends $100k a year on personal expenses!).
What should you say no to?
Here are 3 Things to Eliminate Today!
#1 Networking Shenanigans
You absolutely need to network strategically and build a strong network to be successful. But networking is about building quality, substantive relationships not just a bunch of contacts in your phone or followers on social media.
Often, early in your career or when changing careers, you throw lots of “activity” at networking. Running around meeting people or Zoom coffees, conferences, or joining membership groups. You can find value in these activities if you are strategic. The goal is to build a network that is supportive, provides feedback, information, and insights, makes key connections, and will be your advocate.
These relationships take time. Well spent time. Time giving of yourself.
# 2 Good Opportunities
What! Have you lost your mind!
Nope. The more successful you become the more opportunities come your way. Business opportunities, partnerships, investment ideas, speaking offers, and other exposure opportunities.
I realize this one is a bit more complicated and nuanced. Certainly, earlier in your career it is good advice to say yes to many things (I will not go as far as saying ‘to everything’ as the accepted wisdom goes). Maybe it’s easy to say no if you are Buffet or Steve Jobs, etc. But the hyper focused mindset is right from jump.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. — Steve Jobs
You aren’t going for good. You are going for great!
Be wary of the shiny object. I worked for a company that twisted and turned with every new shiny object — be it a person or business opportunity. It can lead to a hodgepodge of businesses and ideas that don’t really leverage the knowledge accumulated or to employee turnover or resentment.
A note of caution: check yourself. Are you saying no to something that could in fact be valuable to you or your business based on fear? Do you hate public speaking but are presented with an opportunity to present to a valuable audience and position yourself as an authority?
# 3 Productive Imposters
Busy work. Doing it all. Answering to social expectations — what it means to be a CEO or how founders find success by working 24–7.
Busy work may mean checking off that to-do list but how much of what is on that to-do list is moving the needle.
Remember the 80/20 Rule. 20% of efforts cause 80% of the results. How do you stay focused on, create the time and energy for, the 20%? You must be disciplined and constantly eliminate the rest.
Today, we are all about the instant gratification. That can play into our natural tendency to focus on the urgent rather than the important. Putting out a fire feels good. Feeling indispensable feels good. Founders find themselves in the weeds resisting the need to give up control. Slow to delegate the big and the small.
Buffet has said one of the keys to his success is focusing on the long-term. That means focusing on your vision and the impact you want to have. The problem with focusing on the long-term is that you don’t get that instant gratification.
Sam Altman, former President of Y Combinator, a well-known accelerator, agrees. He has said “[o]ne of the few arbitrage opportunities left in the market is time.” That is, the market richly rewards those who take the long-term view.
What will you say no to? What do you think is the most important thing to say no to for success?