Oasis’ Noel and Liam Gallagher won’t be in a very pleasant mood today. Just a few hours ago, their beloved Manchester City were demolished 5-1 by Chelsea in the FA Cup’s fifth round. And the immediate reaction from fans and members of the soccer media is one that you’d expect – “disgraceful,” “embarrassing,” pathetic.”

But watching that Manchester City defeat today, I witnessed something different. And it was impressive, not pathetic. Strategic, not disgraceful. Commendable, not embarrassing. I saw the mind of a true entrepreneur at work. It was a quick lesson in leadership, and reinforcement of a few standard startup keys to success from Manchester City’s manager Manuel Pellegrini.

1. Prioritize Ruthlessly. 

I turned on the match this morning to see Manchester City’s starting lineup featuring players wearing the numbers 51, 53, 59, 75 and 76 on their backs. In soccer, starters typically choose uniform numbers between 1 and 11. Manager Manuel Pellegrini fielded a team comprised largely of youth players and rested his starters for a midweek trip to Eastern Europe to take on Ukraine’s champions in Kiev – in the Champions League.

Manchester City, of course, have never won the Champions League – a competition that holds much more significance than the domestic FA Cup. In his pre-match press conference, Pellegrini said,“There are some moments when you have to prioritize…” I’ve written many times about how prioritization is crucial for success in business, as well as in reducing stress and increasing productivity.

Pellegrini prioritized the prestigious Champions League, plain and simple. He (and City’s executive team) established a goal: winning that competition. The goal is the easy part. Now, as a leader, he must prioritize the tasks to achieve that goal. And resting his star players today to keep them fresh for Kiev is directly correlated to achieving success in the Champions League – the number one goal on the club’s priority list. The decision to field a ‘weakened,’ ‘younger,’ team is then, impressive.

2. Be Honest.

Much has been written about the importance of transparency at a startup – in such a fast-paced environment, honesty can be a great strength. And despite the embarrassing 5-1 defeat today, Pellegrini was certainly honest about his planned inclusion of youth players before the match. He raised some eyebrows earlier this week when he told the media, “The fans want to see a good game but we told them one week ago that we are going to play a young team. If the people want to continue going to the stadium, that’s for them.” He even added, “I think it’s not a real game, of course; not enough to pay the ticket.” 

3. Employees First, Customers Second.

Conventional wisdom states that you put the customers first. In Pellegrini’s case, that would be Manchester City’s passionate fan base. But he put his players first. The Chilean said, “The FA Cup is a very important competition and if you can’t do well in it you must be disappointed, but you also have to be intelligent and make the best decision for the team.”

He made the best decision for the team. He has a number of injured (and injury prone) players – and it was too big of a risk to throw them out against top class opposition on a Sunday night, only to turn around the next day and fly to Kiev for an even more important match.

(Stoppage Time) Bonus Tip – Be Optimistic.

I don’t know why I took such delight and such positives out of a 5-1 defeat, but that leaves me with an extra time thought on successful entrepreneurs: possessing irrational optimism. We’re glass half full guys. So, yeah, Manchester City lost 5-1 today, but let’s see what happens during the week in Kiev, eh? After a masterclass in prioritization, transparency, and treating his team well, I’d be willing to throw a few shekels on a positive result from Pellegrini’s men in Ukraine.

YogaMy wife convinced me to attend a yoga class with her recently. I hadn’t practiced yoga in a few years, and right from the off I knew I’d have to pay close attention to my Lululemon-clad classmates, and mimic their movements, just to keep up.

A few minutes into the session, I felt OK doing the basic bridge pose to stretch out my back – until I sensed that some around me were executing a much more demanding wheel pose. And just as I’m thinking, maybe what I’m doing isn’t good enough, the teacher dropped some serious life knowledge on us. She said, “More isn’t better. More is just more.” 

The financial lens, of course, is the traditional one by which many may approach my yoga instructor’s advice. “More (money) isn’t always better. More (money) is just more (money).” Certainly not a novel concept, and one that has been covered extensively with data from Stanford’s GSB, Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona on The Price of Abundance and others. Besides, the Notorious B.I.G. already taught us all that we need to know on the concept of money and happiness 20 years ago.

But I think the point can be applied elsewhere – specifically when it comes to personal bandwidth.

We’re doing “more” at work than ever before – more projects, more tasks, more meetings, more ‘initiatives.’ The same is going on outside of work: I see peers joining Toastmasters Clubs, “advising” or “mentoring” startups as alumni of their universities, attending networking events. Not core, but more. It’s amazing we can squeeze in an episode or two of Narcos each night with these overflowing plates.

Everyone has their strengths, priorities, and KPIs to aim for: the core DNA that will make them (and their companies) a success. Sometimes we can achieve those core priorities with an overflowing plate, but I don’t think we can if it becomes the steady state: over-stimulated, complex, too much, too fast. Why deviate from our strengths? If your success is measured in client retention rate, then be extremely strong when it comes to customer success, client feedback, product usage, or any of the other factors that will drive retention for your product. De-prioritize other ancillary initiatives. Do less and be great.

Prioritization is crucial for success in business. Bandwidth is limited. Focus is key. It’s difficult but it almost always doesn’t include doing “more.” The startup founder who mentions during his first VC pitch meeting that he’s still working as a contract programmer on the side, is rarely given a serious look. Savvy investors aren’t impressed. “He’s not all in,” they’ll say afterwards at their partner meeting. “Just trying to do too much,” another will judge correctly.

We all know that our personal bandwidth is extremely limited, but if we’re honest and stick to our core DNA – we may just end up getting more from less. It’s worth a thought. And that certainly makes me feel much better about sticking to, and perfecting, that basic bridge pose.