What You Can Learn About Success From Apple's Steve Jobs

Last Updated Jun 2, 2011 2:40 PM EDT

Love Apple's CEO Steve Jobs or hate him, he said something at the D8 Conference last week that resonated with me. It's a lesson that can have a profound impact on how you use the other 8 hours to create a better life.

First, a bit of background. The iPhone and iPad cannot display Adobe Flash. This might not mean anything to you, but Adobe Flash is a technology used for many websites and currently a good deal of online video. If you have an iPhone or iPad there are many videos and websites you cannot view.

Some would argue it's like buying a TV and not being able to watch ABC, NBC, or dare I say, CBS. Doesn't sound like such a smart business decision, does it? In the long run, it may turn out to be a bad move on Apple's part, but keep in mind Apple's market cap has recently exceeded Microsoft's and there have been over 2 million iPads sold within the last two months. The folks in Cupertino have clearly been doing something right.

So, why in the world would Apple make such a dumb decision? Maybe it's not so dumb after all. Here's what Steve Jobs had to say:

"Apple is a company that doesn't have the most resources of everybody in the world. The way we have succeeded is by choosing which horses to ride very carefully."
There is a reason this man is a billionaire. It is this kind of thinking you have to respect, and if you're smart, copy. Apple is one of the largest companies in the world. Surely they have the money, personnel, and resources to do whatever they want, right? Wrong says Steve. He recognizes that time/money/energy spent over here means less time/money/energy spent over there, but what if over there has much greater potential than over here?

Lesson? Focus, focus, focus. Don't try to do everything. Focus on just a handful of things that are meaningful. This will give you more resources to invest in what matters most. Your free time is precious. You don't have eight hours of free time - nobody does. Between long work hours, family responsibilities, cleaning the house, and things like eating and bathing, you might have at best 30 minutes to a couple of hours a night that you can call your own. How should you invest this time?

Follow Steve's advice . . . "we have succeeded by choosing which horses to ride very carefully." He'll be the first to tell you that Apple's products don't do everything. The lesson is that sometimes it's not so much what you do, but what you don't do that makes all the difference.

Which horses in your life should you dedicate more time and energy to ride? Play a round of golf with the guys or work on the prototype for your invention? Have drinks with the gals or get home to finish writing the chapter in your novel? Get rid of anything and everything that is pulling you from what's most important -- maybe even those things you think you're supposed to do. Referencing earlier decisions to focus on less, Steve said "peopled called us crazy." Crazy today can be genius tomorrow. The less you do the more you can achieve.

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(Steve Jobs image by insidetwit, CC 2.0)

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    Robert Pagliarini is obsessed with inspiring others to create and empowering them to live life to the fullest by radically changing the way they invest their time and energy. He is the founder of Richer Life, a community of passionate people who want to learn and achieve more in life and at work. He is a Certified Financial Planner and the president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors, a boutique wealth management firm serving sudden wealth recipients and affluent individuals. He has appeared as a financial expert on 20/20, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew's Lifechangers and many others.