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.

Over time, I found I wasn’t building my Idea List around success. My long and exhaustive catalog of thoughts and suggestions were a distraction. I’ve packed my Evernote notebooks with ideas that gather digital dust. And what did I have to show for it? At times I felt guilt for having sown crops of ideas and having few inventions at harvest 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.

To solve this, 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.

In my experience, it is essentnial to help people get their jobs done better. That may mean getting their most important job done in less time. Or delivering the results with excellence. Or taking fewer resources or less cost to do so.

For me, that means I focus on my most important innovation project. And what is that? Given the people that I can reach, I pay attention to helping them get their most important job done better.

I then organize my day around that critical goal. 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. Except for my energy and my family, everything else comes second.

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

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?

Do you have an Idea List or a Success List? 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.”