Little by little

I think we’re all fascinated with the idea of success and accomplishments. So much so that the “personal development” industry has become a multi-billion dollar industry in itself!

The challenge, however, is that we have become slaves to all this personal development talk and stuff (products, books, audio, podcasts, whatever)! I’m disgusted by the sheer volume of content that’s motivational in nature. (Google “motivation” and you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

Do I not see the value of motivation and personal development?

Sure, I do. But like all great things in life, I firmly believe that there can be too much of a good thing. And you would want to avoid that.

I heard Brian Koppelman recently (on a James Altucher podcast) and was stunned by this man’s simple approach towards mastery. Instead of focusing on many things, he narrows down to that one project he wants to get really good at. And that is it! Nothing more. Nothing less.

Quite zen, won’t you agree?

And Brain isn’t the only one. I’ve observed a major shift in thinking recently. Experts have realized that it’s okay to be a generalist or a jack of all trades. The approach, however, is to build up your skills one by one and not all at the same time.

Focusing on one thing (aka specialization, if only for a limited time) is more efficient and will allow you to speak intelligently about the topic you want to master. And that’s the key to being a remarkable generalist.

This year, for example, I want to focus on writing, sales, and psychology. Nothing more. Nothing less. I believe that will help me stay focused on what I want to achieve in life and my long-term goal. Trust me when I say this, having three goals is much better than a dozen. I’ve been there. It’s not easy.

Next year, however, my list could be slightly different. But I definitely wouldn’t want to go overboard with my goals.

Here’s why. Narrowing down on your focus areas streamlines your life in a big way. Everything becomes so much manageable. It becomes easy to say NO to the things that don’t align with my annual goals.

My reading list (and most people know that I consume a lot of content via books, videos and online) is much shorter and super focused. My to-do list is fueled by a powerful question: will this task/project help me achieve my goal? If it’s not an emphatic yes, it’s a hell no!

I think step-by-step is the key to climbing a mountain. No matter how big or small your mountain is. That’s how Picasso built up his massive body of work of more than 50,000 works of art. He didn’t start out that way. He focused on being productive and to create something every day.

Ditto for Barbara Cortland who at the age of 82 wrote 23 novels in a single year. She could have focused on other important things that are clearly a priority at that age. But she was bold enough to look beyond her needs and instead focused on satiating her creative urge by writing something every day. Well, a couple of novels every month.

That’s a bunch of pages every day. The key is “every day.” One day at a time. Over 15 days for a novel. Another 15 for another novel. And 23 novels over the course of a year.

The beauty of appreciating the little steps is that it’s universally applicable to anything that you do or can think of. Be it your career success, relationships, health, fitness, athletics, art, creative, anything.

Little by little does build up over time.

What are you waiting for? Do something!

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