Focusing means choosing with intention what you aren’t going to do, how you are going to fail, and who you will disappoint. Yes, it’s also about choosing when, how, and with whom you are going to succeed, but that success isn’t possible without first saying no.
The best teams are comprised of people who focus on the same things and have complimentary goals. Joining a team that is in conflict with your focus doesn’t help the team and distracts you. Declining to work with teams and on projects that do not fulfill your goals is not selfishness. Giving in to distractions is not generosity.
Businesses lose their direction when employees become more interested in helping other people than in working toward completing their own goals. If everyone sacrifices themselves for the greater good, no one will survive to see the good achieved.
A successful career is not comprised of a series of mildly helpful contributions to others’ projects. Success is achievement of one’s own objectives. It requires focus, and the strength of will to say no.