Who are you? What do you do? What activity are you most identified with? We all seek to be part of some type of community. This starts early in childhood. We start to wear the clothes, listen to the music and do the things our friends or idols do. We all want to be identified with something. Maybe you are an entrepreneur, or author, or athlete, or artist, or musician?
Notice the “or” words in that last sentence, it is not “and”. You can’t be great at everything. In fact if you try to do too many things, like most people, you will be mediocre at all of them. Mediocrity is not the way to success.
It is okay to have hobbies and play around with other things you are interested in, but if you want to be great at something, you MUST focus on that one thing. I call it, FOCUS on the ONE. Commitment is important. People are afraid to commit to jobs, to their hobbies even to the person they love because they might change their mind or they are not sure. Stop worrying about the future and commit to what you are passionate about now. That is what happiness is. If you can be happy in what you are doing in each moment, you will easily achieve your own measures of success.
To be a world class athlete or musician, It takes about 10,000 hours of focused practice. Four hours a day and five days a week means somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 years of concentrated effort to become exceptional. Of course this doesn’t mean that you will be the best, it just means that you have paid your dues in order to compete at the highest levels.
Think about that for a while. The rock stars, professional athletes and actors you see on your TV spent thousands of hours practicing, learning and failing before they ever earned any substantial money or fame. Of course, there are a few exceptions. You don’t have to think too hard to find people who have became famous because of rich parents, great connections or just luck. However, in many fields like sports, science and music, skill cannot be faked.
What have you invested ten thousand hours into? What are you prepared to invest 10,000 hours into? If you are doing it solely for the money, it is not going to happen. You can’t put that much effort into something just for an eventual paycheck. You need to sustain the drive and excitement when you are doing the tedious repetitions of daily practice. Practicing music scales for 4 hours or swimming hundreds of laps in a pool is not glamorous or exciting. Top level people in every field do these things to achieve personal excellence and mastery in their chosen endeavor.
Once you are at the top of your field you can try other things. Jon Bon Jovi tried acting. Keanu Reeves plays in a band, Michael Jordan tried baseball. They might even be good at these second activities but they will never be as great as their first chosen focus. They just simple can’t put in the required time and effort.
For most of us choosing a focus is incredibly hard. We all want to do many things. I want to start a new business, write a book, travel the world, play in a rock band AND go back to school. I am as greedy as the next person; I want to have everything. I also know that trying too many things will inevitably lead to accomplishing nothing.
If we want to be world class or excellent in anything we need to “FOCUS on the ONE”. Here are some of the key reasons why focus is important.
1. You improve at one thing faster than you if you are trying many things. This is pretty obvious but there are less obvious benefits.
2. “FOCUSING on ONE” thing minimizes distractions and diversions. With only one goal you will always be thinking about better ways, new ideas, and opportunities to your ONE goal. The quantity and quality of your efforts will be amplified.
4. Once you become known as the person who is doing your ONE thing, you will be introduced to people who can help you. You will start to meet like minded people to share ideas with. You may even find investors or partners.
World class success is not achieved by multi-taskers. Multi-tasking is just another excuse for procrastination. Success comes from focus. Focus on family. Focus on friends. Focus on your passion. And focus on leaving the world a little better place then you found it.
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I moved to Japan more than 12 years ago, my wife and I have a one year plan to change our careers and move to a new country once again. If you are interested in hearing more about our progress and reading interviews with real people making huge lifestyle design decisions, please subscribe to my RSS feed and follow me on Twitter.