We all like control. We like to control the TV remote, our finances, and our businesses. I would like to control the outcome of football games. What’s nice is that we get to control what we pay attention to, where we put our focus. We forget sometimes with all the information available to us through media that we do not have to listen to it all or read everything that crosses our screens. The same goes for the rest of our lives – we can choose where to set our focus.
Ask yourself, What means the most to me? What do you care the most about? What is most relevant to your work, your customers, and the rest of your life?’ Those are the things that should be getting our focus. But they rarely receive adequate attention.
The ultimate example of focus can be found in the life of Einstein (NO THIS IS NOT A SCIENCE LECTURE). I didn’t want to lose you there. Usually, I immediately shut down when someone starts to talk about mathematics or science theories, but I respect Einstein’s focus and passion to innovate.
So in Switzerland, Einstein became convinced that if he applied a “new” math studied by Marcel Grossman to his own work on relativity, he could explain gravity. This advance would be huge.
Einstein set to work.
Between 1912 to 1915, he became obsessed in his push to formalize general relativity. He worked so hard that his marriage became strained and his hair turned white from the stress.
But, he got it done. In 1915 he published his full theory, which stands as one of the greatest scientific accomplishments — if not the single greatest — of the 20th century.
Einstein’s push explains a lot about accomplishment. We are most productive when we focus on a very small number of projects on which we can devote a large amount of attention. Achievements worth achieving require hard work. There is no shortcut or cheating here. Be it starting up a new club or a new business, eventually, effort, sustained over a long amount of time, is required.
In a perfect world, we would all be Einstein. We would be allowed to focus on this specialized set, in exclusion, as we push the projects to impressive conclusions.
But this doesn’t happen…
We plant a lot of project seeds. We e-mail a lot of people, join a lot of clubs, commit to a lot of minor projects, set up lots of meetings, and constantly send out feelers to friends and connections regarding our latest brainstorm. These numerous seeds, however, have a tendency to transform into weeds. While some of them clearly grow into pursuits worth continuing, others die off quickly. I finally found success once I learned to say No! I pursued one thing fully, and then focused on the next.
These weed projects violate the Einstein principle. Accomplish more by doing less – it worked for Einstein. Can it work for you? Focus on one thing, and let less becomes more.
Jake Englehorn is an adventurous entrepreneur focused on turning the customer service industry on its head. As an advisor and collaborator for businesses in the west, his main passion lies with small business.
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