My pastor recently sat down and had lunch with Jack Nicklaus, and he asked him how he became such a great golfer. Nicklaus said he actually wanted to play football when he was young, but realized his hands were too small to be a quarterback. He also wanted to run track, but he was too slow. It was through this process of elimination that he got to golf as the sport he was going to play.
Nicklaus had many choices available to him, but he chose to focus on the one where he had the greatest chance of success. Peter Drucker says, “Concentration is the key to economic results. No other principle of effectiveness is violated as constantly as the basic principle of concentration … Our motto seems to be, let’s do a little bit of everything.”
The world’s best businesses focus relentlessly on becoming the best in their field. The Ritz-Carlton focuses on being the best hotel chain in the world through a best-in-practice Service Excellence Culture; this legendary service model has resulted in engaged employees and customers through the concept of empowerment. When you try to do too many things, you end up losing focus on a core-competence – becoming mediocre at an array of things rather than the best in the world at one.
If you are going to become the best at your job, vocation, or hobby, choose to focus on your strengths. We all have weaknesses, but time spent improving weaknesses will yield far fewer results than time spent focusing on strengths. If you are a great salesperson but bad manager, focus on being the best salesperson in the office and turn down a promotion to sales manager. If you are great at golf but mediocre at baseball, step off the diamond and spend your time on the green or driving range.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Seth Godin, “Just about everything you learned in school about life is wrong, but the wrongest thing might very well be this: Being well rounded is the secret to success.”