A Lesson On Focus

“Put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket very closely.”

“It’s better to invest more in your first best idea than your tenth best idea.”

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

“If you own six great businesses, the seventh one has got to be a mistake.”

I think about these quotes from Warren Buffett a lot. Buffett sometimes tells a story about when someone asked he and Bill Gates to each write down one word that represents the key to their individual success, they both wrote the word focus.

This way of thinking isn’t only good for investing or business, it’s a good way to approach life in general. In life you can’t focus on just one thing, but there’s a tremendous opportunity cost for focusing on too many things. Buffett’s idea (he was quoting a friend actually) of investing in no more than six business makes for a good rule of thumb for how many things to focus on in everyday life.

For example:

1) close relationships

2) health

3) personal growth

4) career

5) investments

6) favorite hobby

The categories should be fairly narrow as well. For example, if you have a career and a “side-hustle” they should be separate categories. For investing, you should focus on the type of investing that works best for you. Etc.

If you add new categories to the list (7,8,9), what happens (in my experience) is you end up putting a previous category on autopilot for awhile. You end up putting your relationships on autopilot, or your heath, etc. You can get away with that for only so long.

We have only so much time, energy, and money. So we need to use those resources for mastering just a handful of things that are most important to us.