Do One Thing
This is advice I give from my life of experience so far. I will add that it is a terribly difficult thing to do. Malcolm Galdwell famously wrote in his book, Outliers, that it takes a person 10,000 hours to get to expert status. Rudy Giuliani is famous for focusing on cleaning up the subway areas in New York as his “one” way of fighting crime. Fighting crime was his one thing.
There are two ways we choose to do one thing, so to speak. We choose what to be – an artist, an accountant, an entrepreneur; and we choose what to do – a series of paintings for a gallery show, joining a large accounting firm as a career path, or starting a software company.
Choosing one thing will have a multiplicity of implications. For the artist, a showing means buying supplies, imagining the theme, planning paintings, finding a gallery and perhaps a donor or two, amongst other things.All these things lead to the one thing. Imagine, however, trying to do another thing. Perhaps the artist decides to start a web design business as well, using their illustration skills. Can they do it? Probably, but this lack of focus will cost them.
I can tell you from experience and even from the current pulls in my life that staying focused on one thing takes discipline. There will be many asks of you when you have much to give. You may even feel the need to diversify. Don’t.
Many an artist started a design business to make some extra money to allow them to do art, many an accountant joined a large firm always planning to hang out a shingle, many an entrepreneur-to-be started a company and then took a job as insurance, never to return fully to their one thing. Although I will optimistically say it is never too late to chase your dream, sometimes it actually is. A 65 year old will not win the Boston Marathon…ever.