On a flight Warren Buffett was talking with his pilot and jokingly said “The fact that you’re still working for me, tells me I’m not doing my job. You should be out going after more of your goals and dreams.”
Buffett then asked Steve to list the top 25 things he wanted to do in the next few years or even during his lifetime. Buffett then asked him to review each item and circle the top five that were most important to him. Steve was hesitant because to him they were all massively important.
But Buffett insisted that he could only pick five. So Steve spent some time with his list and after some deliberation, made five circles. He then asked Steve… when he planned to get to work on these top 5 and what his approach would be.
Steve said: “I’m going to get to work on them right away. I’ll start tomorrow. Actually, no. I’ll start tonight.”
“Now once the Top 5 done,” Buffett asked “what about these other 20 things on your list that you didn’t circle?”
Steve replied confidently, “Well the top five are my primary focus but the other twenty come in a close second. So, I’ll work on those intermittently as I’m getting through my top 5.”
Buffett responded sternly, “No. You’ve got it wrong. Everything you didn’t circle just became your ‘Avoid-At-All-Cost-List’. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve fully succeeded with your top 5.”
Every behavior has a cost. Even neutral behaviors aren’t really neutral. They take up time, energy, and space that could be put toward better behaviors or more important tasks
This is why Buffett’s strategy is particularly brilliant. Items 6 through 25 on our lists are important to us But when we compare them to our top 5 goals, these items are distractions. Spending time on secondary priorities is the reason we have 25 half-finished projects instead of 5 completed ones.
Eliminate ruthlessly. Force ourself to focus. The most dangerous distractions are the ones we love, but that don’t love us back.
~ Adapted from an Article in the Stable Investor ~