The Ideas That Bog Us Down the Most

It’s not the frivolous ideas and interruptions that are our dangerous distractions.

It’s actually the seemingly logical and sensible ideas that can really bog us down the most.

We spoke last week about having a number of good ideas but not trying to do them all at once, and prioritizing them, one to four. That’s exactly what we need to keep doing when we know what we need to do most.

Now there are a myriad of great suggestions out there that can be sensible. But, if you know the four key steps you need to be taking right now, by default, step number five — no matter how sensible it is, no matter how logical it might seem or what a great idea it might be for someone else — for you, if you know those four steps to take, step number five is a total distraction. It’s a total waste of time. And this is where we get tripped up. We see so many good ideas that make sense, [that] we don’t focus on what most needs to happen next.

It was the same for me in my final swimming competition. The Commonwealth Games were in Auckland, New Zealand. It was my hometown, and I was approached by a number of companies to take on sponsorships after my successful Olympics a couple of years prior to that. So I justified doing that. My parents had now paid for fifteen years of my swimming career. There was no money in swimming back then, and, understandably, this was going to be my one and only opportunity to earn income from my sport. So it was something easy to justify. Many people would have loved to have been in that position.

But the reality was these were never distractions I dealt with a couple of years prior when we went on to have a huge, successful Olympic campaign. What I had done was justified doing this — had allowed it to come into my habits and routine — and it was a distraction that really cost me dearly in the end. In fact, to this day, I’ve never stood on the top podium and heard my country’s national anthem played. It was an expensive distraction.

Look, it made sense to many people on the outside, as far as this one opportunity to capitalize on, but it deviated from a winning formula that we’d used before.

It’s exactly the same in our industry. You, as an advisor, have those three or four steps that you know you need to take that can really have you grow to that next level. You know if you focus on developing the investment models you’ve needed for a while, it will have you freed up to do so much more. You know if you segment your clients relative to the revenue generated, you know going forward from that it will, again, free you up to bring on more clients and service them all just as effectively.

And, yet, you’ll permit yourselves to get distracted by other ideas about Facebook advertising, about AdWords needed there, about how to appeal to people on LinkedIn. And all of these are good ideas, but if you know those four things you need to do and they’re points numbers five, six and seven, they’re a total waste of time and a costly distraction.

You need to put the blinders on and stay focused on what it is you need to get done.


  1. You need to know what you need to do. Think about those four items that you need to spend time on completing and see them through to the end.

  2. When you do have a distraction come along, don’t just dismiss it out-of-mind. Keep it at arm’s length. Maybe spend five minutes evaluating it. Tuck it away (for later), if it has some validity and some potential for you, let it go if it doesn’t.

  3. Move on. Have those four points put down, and move onto the next one, keeping in mind how freed-up you’re going to feel when you’ve done them all — when you’ve strengthened your business. And then, when you have some time, look around and consider what you want to do next. That’s the time to review great idea number five.

I look forward to bringing you another Distraction-Proof Advisor idea next week.

Related: Succeed Sooner by Attempting Less