Principle #3: Focus In

My worst fear in life is becoming a Jack of All Trades, Master of Nothin’.

Okay fine, that’s not exactly true. My WORST fear is getting my hands chopped off in a freak accident. 😅
But my SECOND worst fear is being a Jack nothin’.

I would paint a Jack of all trades as someone who…. dabbles. 
Someone who is mediocre at a bunch of things, but never a high performer in one thing.
They don’t invest their time and priority properly. They lose interest quickly, because they never really care enough to make it a priority.

A Renaissance Life isn’t about trying to reach mastery in everything. There’s not enough time, energy, attention and resources to make that happen on our own. (Unless we could download wisdom straight into our brains. SCIENCE!) 

If you’ve read the book, The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, you might mistake me for being completely opposed to the idea of choosing one think and sticking with it. In fact, I actually LOVE the book (it’s in on my top book recommends that can improve your life list) The key nugget I gleamed from the book was that in order to accomplish a goal or reach mastery in a skill, we need give our total focus on what we are doing. Cal Newport would call this Deep Work. 

What I disagree with is the old mindset of specializing. The industrialized concepts of being really good at the one job on the factor line. An instrument for others to play.

The fact of the matter is: Life is messy.

We live in the grey: we don’t know all the answers and never will. Even if you identify yourself as one thing, say a doctor, their are thousands of ways you can express your love of the medical craft.

Renaissance Principle #3: Focus In 

Create a priority list of things you want to proficient in this world.

Ask yourself, 
What do I love that can create the most impact?
What do I want to be really good at, even master?

If you need help deciding , try this

One of my favorite questions to ask on the Renaissance Life podcast is:

If you could learn any 3 skills instantly, what would you choose?

90% of my guests have something they know they would like to learn.

It can be anything you want, the hard part for me is prioritizing them. Number them. If you don’t, you’re priorities will start to compete with each other.

How many things do you choose to focus on at once?

As many as your time and resources allow.

If you can’t give intentional time to what you are learning, progress will be infinitesimal.

Trying to be a professional athlete, writer, dancer, dress-maker, yogi, photographer and moonlight as a bartender WHILE having a full-time job (or whatever you’re attempting) is a surefire way for you to overwhelm yourself and burn out, before you even start.

FOCUS IN on how much of yourself you have to give. The more you give, the faster you will see returns.

I’ve written about this before. This is something I struggle with all the time. I want to do EVERY-THANG all at once. But it’s just not physical possible (until we can clone ourselves.)

To achieve your goals, you have to narrow your view of what you say YES to, and say NO to anything that distracts you and pushes you away from what’s important.

How to Focus In 

  1. Choose Your Focuses. Let go of the rest. (Someday list)
  2. Then create a daily practice around your priorities. (See Principle #2)

Want to be a great photographer?

Hit the streets, take a photo of a subject you love and do it every day.
Befriend photographers better than you, learn from their experiences.

Want to be a professional speaker?

Start speaking.Practice by recording yourself speak and watching it for feedback.
Join a speaking group.
Get up on stage.


The big elephant in the room is how do you know what to choose?

The honest-to-God answer is TRY (even though it should like it should be on a motivation poster)


What you do possibly have to lose by giving it a try?
And if you don’t like it drop it and try something else.
The world is MASSIVE. Skills are abundant.

It sounds simple (too simple) but it works.

Focus in to win. 

(…Ugh this was a great post until you rhymed at the end there. What a writing noob.)

Stay Bold, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” — Alexander Graham Bell

“Choose to focus your time, energy and conversation around people who inspire you, support you and help you to grow you into your happiest, strongest, wisest self.” — Karen Salmansohn

“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.”— Denis Waitley

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