I recently reached the conclusion that everything is a funnel.
By this I mean that how things relate to each other go through different phases, where the nature of the relationship is different. Therefore, it's not a matter of degree, but of kind.
Let's take the example of the popular sales funnel:
A sales funnel begins with creating awareness about a product being sold. Those who are aware of the product will filter into 2 groups: those who are interested, and those who aren't. Those interested can also be divided into two groups: those who remain interested but have not decided to buy, and those who have decided to buy.
The nature of each part of the funnel is different to the part before it and the part after it. It's not simply a matter of quantity. Awareness is achieved in a way that's completely different to cultivating interest. And getting people to buy is different to raising awareness.
Somebody who isn't interested will not buy. To persuade them to buy you don't simply let them know that the product exists (that brings the product to their awareness. That doesn't create interest).
The same funnel thinking can be applied to personal relationships, improving business operations (not only sales), moving ideas into published pieces, and so on.
There will always be things that remain in one phase without moving on to the next. But by taking the most appropriate approach for each phase you can move things along the funnel (be it customers or widgets).
The funnel mentality helps you identify what it is you need to focus on to move things one phase at a time. People may not be ready to hire you, for example, because you've not established trust yet. Work on establishing trust before you pitch your services.
Break everything you want to accomplish down into phases, and work on making progress from one phase to the next. This funnel mindset has helped me out a lot in building processes and focusing on one step at a time.