Throw away your Idea List. Make a Success List instead.

Do you have a laundry list of ideas you think you “need” to create and that leads you to feel overwhelmed? Or a super-focused list of essential things that leads you to real success?

Idea Lists are long. Success Lists are short. Idea Lists pull us in all directions. Success Lists help to maintain our aim on our target. Idea Lists contain everything, and that’s exactly where it takes us – everywhere but where we want to go.

I found I wasn’t building my idea list around success. Over time, I came to realize that’s not where it was taking me. My long and exhaustive list of thoughts and suggestions was a distraction. I’ve packed my Evernote notebooks with ideas gather digital dust. And what did I have to show for it? At times I felt like guilt for having produced many ideas and having few inventions to show for it.

Being buried with too many ideas is a not a side-effect of being an innovator. Its a consequence of having no filter. Choosing to pay attention to one thought or suggestion over another is a costly decision. Flip-flopping between many can be disastrous.

First, we must get clear on what is essential. Then, we need to organize our entire life around those critical things. Everything else is a distraction.

The first step in winning the future is helping people get their jobs done better. That may mean getting their most important job done in less time. Or delivering the results of their most crucial job-to-be-done with excellence. Or taking fewer resources or less cost to do so.

For me, that means I focus on my most important innovation project. Given the people that I can reach, I pay attention to help them get their most important job done better. On my Masterpiece Days, I devote the first two-hours of my morning to deep work. I check that box early, so I’ve already had a successful day by the end of breakfast.

With a Success List, you’ll spend more time making progress and less doing the things that don’t. You’ll make more progress in creating the significant, positive change you want.

Do you have an Idea List or a Success List? What does a successful day look like for you? What’s the one thing you can do each day to help the people you serve to get their most important job done in less time? With fewer problems? With excellent results? Or at a lower cost?

The key to winning the future is to help your people to get their most important job done better. Nothing else matters. Scrap your Idea List. Create your Success List. Check the boxes. Daily. Create a string Masterpiece Days on your way to creating your innovation masterpiece.

Acknowledgments and Sources

In writing this piece, this quote from Gary Keller inspired me:

“To-do lists tend to be long; success lists are short. One pulls you in all directions; the other aims you in a specific direction. One is a disorganized directory and the other is an organized directive. If a list isn’t built around success, then that’s not where it takes you. If your to-do list contains everything, then it’s probably taking you everywhere but where you really want to go.”

Gary Keller

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