Frederick the Great once said ‘he who defends everything defends nothing’.
Fortifications in kingdoms are often concentrated at certain key points – a watchpost on a hilltop, moats around castles, walls around key cities. While most of the kingdom was left undefended, the most crucial locations were intensively defended. The challenge every king faced was to defend their kingdom with the smallest possible army.
However, this begs the question – how do you know which points are crucial? How do you identify where you build a castle and where you position sentries? When you look at a map of your kingdom, every part of it looks weak, vulnerable and in need of defense. It takes a master military strategist to ignore most locations and select the handful that really matter.
We live at a time when we no longer need to defend kingdoms. However, we lead busy lives, where our schedules are besieged a constant volley of demands. It is our time and attention that we need to defend today.
These demands are always screaming for our immediate attention. Everything seems to have the highest priority. Yet, he who prioritizes everything, prioritizes nothing. One needs to neglecting most of these demands to focus on the handful that really matter.
Today’s master strategists are the ones who master prioritization.