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The Value of Focusing on Big-Picture Decisions

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The decisions you make in your job are more valuable than the work you do. That’s the truth, even though your current work environment may not reflect it.

I was sharing this idea with one of my longtime personal coaching clients, a self-confessed workaholic and perfectionist. One of his team members had just delivered a project that was “good but not great.” My client expressed second thoughts about choosing not to redo it. But he also labeled the particular project as “not very important.”

Knowing how busy he is with “high importance” tasks, I praised his choice and taught him the truth you read at the beginning of this post.

Think about the most successful individuals in business. Do you really think people evaluated Steve Jobs on the quality of the memos he wrote? Or do people derive value from any given financial projections that Warren Buffett ran on Microsoft Excel? Of course not — they judged Jobs on his track record for deciding which products to develop and when they were great enough to ship, and Buffett on which companies he chose to invest in.

Now, of course, you’re not a CEO of a huge company, and neither am I. We both have to do actual work to merely stay above water in our current roles. This is a principle of degrees, not absolutes.

But think about this for a minute — how much more value would you deliver to your current and future employers if you made some or all of the following decisions?

  • Decide to produce only newsworthy, relevant stories and not cave on those you know will go nowhere.
  • Decide to spend an hour a week reaching out to your top media targets and ask nothing from them in return.
  • Decide to ignore your email and phone for two hours a day and immerse yourself in your most challenging creative responsibility for that day.

Those might be scary for you to imagine implementing right away, but over the long term your results will increase and you’d offer far more value to your clients or employer.

Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.

Want to dive deeper into Smart’s tips for landing more media coverage? Check out his workshop “Secrets of Media Relations Masters” or his online course “Crafting the Perfect Pitch.”

About the author

Michael Smart


  • It’s such a good point that PR professionals should think about their career in the long-term when communicating on behalf of an organization. I also think that reaching out to media contacts for no other reason than to develop good relationships is crucial for anyone in this profession.

  • This article brings up a really important concept. As a college student studying Public Relations, the idea of big-picture decisions hasn’t come up in any of my courses. This article is a good reminder to keep things in perspective and focus time and energy on the most important tasks.

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