Narrow focus

Ross Douthat faults political leaders who propose America be “focused everywhere.”

As the linked piece above points out: “By definition, to focus on certain parts of the world requires that the U.S. pay less attention and devote fewer resources to the rest. If one region is in focus, the others are not going to be. Recognizing that U.S. resources and power are finite, it is necessary to choose how they will be employed.”

Focus requires humility, because it requires an acknowledgement that it’s impossible to do everything, and even more impossible to do everything well.

About two years ago I was in a board meeting for a nonprofit. It was the Annual Meeting, when priorities were being set for the year to come.

The board member leading the session asked everyone to go around the table and list their top 1-2 priorities that they thought should be achieved in the coming year. After going around the table, the list of priorities was something like 15 different things.

“So what are we actually going to prioritize?” the session leader asked.

“These 15 priorities,” responded a board member.

It was a revelation to most of this board’s members that having “15 priorities” was unworkable in scope.

The priorities list was whittled down to three things.

All three were realized within a year, and those achievements have formed the basis for continued growth.

Narrow focus to a few areas for impact.

Prune to grow.