The Downside of Doing Multiple Things

There are dangerous lands on the road towards a Renaissance Life (aka a life of creativity, mastering and meaning). Namely, when you decide to pursue multiple things, you are also deciding to split your resources. Where a ‘one thing’ kind of person has the power to prioritize all their resources to a single focus, we have to divvy our resources into multiple.

A Specialist becomes really good at one thing and aspires to be a master of one.
A Generalist becomes really good at a bunch of things, and aspires a jack (or jill) of all.
A Multiplist* (Renaissance Human, Polymath, Multi-hyphenate) becomes really good at a handful of things and aspires to master the chosen few and connect them in interesting ways.

Our time, attention, energy and money all have to be carefully given, otherwise we can stretch ourselves too thin and dilute our ability to make progress. Even if you have all the money on the planet, you still will be limited by how much time you give to your pursuits within the span of a day.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs

Guard Your Resources

Like a mamma bird protecting her young, we need to guard our finite resources with care.

Ultimately, every resources used comes down to what we say yes and no too.

It’s difficult in the moment, but t he more we say no, the more we can say yes to what we really want to say yes to.

Knowing what you want to master is a great way of what you should say yes or no to. If the opportunity doesn’t align with your pursuits, it’s a no. If it does then its a yes. This balance of yes’s and no’s is a continuous process. It’s like mowing grass —you have to keep doing it. Of course, saying yes to the wrong things has a bit more consequence than a tall, messy lawn.

*Not a word but should be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #647

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The Biggest Issue with a Multi-Disciplinary Life

I’ve been reading Total Focus. From the beginning, Brandon Webb talks about the idea of One Thing. 

“If you can’t pour yourself 100 percent into an idea when you start it, then you’re starting it half-assed, and you’ll never have more than a half-baked plan. When you have a half-baked plan, you can’t expect any more than a half-baked outcome.”

“By nature, most entrepreneurs have some form of attention deficit disorder..
‘Yeah, I’ve got three startups going,’ and I don’t need to hear any more, because I already know how that story ends. You may think you’re going to do three of four things at once and keep that up until one of them shows itself to be the winner — but you’re kidding yourself. All you’re doing is shortchanging all three or four projects. You need to choose one. Not two. One.”

I’ve heard about this before in the book The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. (Really on the nose with that title aren’t we, Gary?)

And he’s right.

There’s only so much you to go around. No matter how much you say or desire to do, there’s only so much time, and energy you can give to each pursuit you have. It’s the classic opportunity cost scenario. The more you give into one thing, the less time you have to give into another.

What Brandon and Gary are telling us is that it’s not that we can’t or shouldn’t do multiple things, it’s that without other resources to help counterbalance the time need to do something right, we’re going to end up doing something less than our best.

The only analogy I can think of at the moment is juggling. When you’re juggling 4 or 5 different objects, you’re really only touching one at a time and passing it on. You’re focusing on one object at hand while being situationally aware of everything else in front of you. And when you have the financial capability to delegate someone else’s time and energy to the mission, you can give your full attention to more things. Two jugglers, four hands.

Goals can be compatible with one another, but they also have to compatible with what you have to offer (time, energy and money)

The biggest problem I’ve been butting up against this past year is money. With multiple disciplines and goals, I only have so much capital to go around. Am I going to purchase a new amp and equipment for my guitar, or am I going to buy a new mixer for podcasting? I want both but I would need to increase my finances for that to happen or save over time (which requires more time and energy put into my business).

You can see the benefit of focusing on one thing, and how multi-disciplines can get hairy quickly. (Like a great time travel movie)

And here lies Brandon’s conclusion:

“If I had to pick a single core principle for success in business, it would be this: choose one thing, focus on that one thing, and execute it to the absolute limit of your abilities. Focus on your career, invest in yourself, and learn how to say no to everything else.” 

“Once you reach the point where you have the financial capacity to hire out or partner with the talent and team power to manage a range of different areas, you can start adding additional projects to your portfolio… maybe.“

If you want to have a Renaissance Life, be a Master of multiple disciplines and an extraordinary life, start with one thing. Focus in one area that is meaningful to you. Give it all of your attention until you master it. Once you do that, expand your circle with an additional focus, rinse and repeat.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner