Focus and Grow Rich

I’d like to begin with some significant dates in history:

June 24th 1314 – the Battle of Bannockburn takes place
June 24th 1441 – Eton College is founded by Henry VI
June 24th 1540 – Henry VIII divorces Anne of Cleves
June 24th 2010 – Ed Reid launches his blog.

Yes, the blog’s a year old. And apart from a week off over Christmas, number of weeks missed equals nil. So thank you for your support over the past year; thanks for reading the blog and thanks for all the comments – even the ones that disagreed with me!

OK – to business. And a quotation:

We live in curious times. It’s called the Age of Information. But in another light it can be called the Age of Distraction.

That’s from Focus, by Leo Babauta. If anyone would like a free copy of the book, e-mail me and I’ll send you the link. On second thoughts don’t e-mail me – to celebrate the blog’s first birthday, click here for the link. Leo’s happy for his book to be distributed as widely as possible – it’s un-copyrighted.

Leo makes a simple point. We’re living in the Age of Distraction. You know it. I know it. E-mail, instant messages, mobile phones, Twitter, conference calls, people sticking their head round the door…we’re constantly attacked by distractions. And what’s our natural response to all this? We try and multi-task.

We even try and multi-task in our jobs. You meet someone – you ask “What do you do?” and what’s their reply? ‘Right now I’m doing some web design. I teach a couple of days a week. And I sell some stuff on e-bay. Plus I’ve got my eye on this old cottage I’m thinking of renovating…’

Contrast this with the person who says, “I’m a fitness coach for pregnant women.” Thank you. I know exactly what you do. And I suspect you might be quite good at it.

What do successful entrepreneurs do? By and large they don’t have fingers in a hundred different pies – at least not until they’ve made it to ‘Dragon’s Den’. They pursue one goal with absolute determination and absolute dedication.

Sometimes I think there’s nothing new. Many of you will have heard of Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish industrialist who made a fortune in the US steel industry. These days, Carnegie’s fortune would have been counted in the billions. One of his most famous quotations is this one:

Concentrate your energies, your thoughts and your capital. The wise man puts all his eggs in one basket and watches the basket

And while many so-called ‘gurus’ lay claim to the following piece of business advice, it originated with Carnegie. Make a list of the six most important things you have to do every day and focus on number one until you’ve done it. Then do number two. And so on.

In 1908, Carnegie commissioned Napoleon Hill, then a journalist, to interview more than 500 wealthy achievers to find out the common threads of their success. The eventual result of this was the hugely successful Think and Grow Rich, which I suspect we’ve all read at some time. What was one of the central messages? Focus. Keep focused on the goal you want to achieve and don’t get distracted.

That’s exactly the same message as Leo Babauta is offering nearly a hundred years later. Don’t multi-task. It’s impossible in the long run. The mental effort involved in constantly changing gears is too much. Do one thing, and do it well. Remember the quote from Stephen Covey in an earlier blog? ‘Keep the main thing the main thing’.

After all, if you wanted a website designed would you go back to the teacher who was going to renovate the cottage when he wasn’t busy on e-bay? I doubt it. But if you were pregnant, and you wanted to keep fit…



  1. Steve Gorton · June 24, 2011

    An intriguing thought – send the email with an interesting title (otherwise deleted if not from Ed) and a link to the “special” blog.

    Click link – read down – happy birthday – “”””Free book”””” – note Ed suggesting email him for a copy and then thinking that would have him multitasking so go direct to site – click that link, download book. Save pdf to read later – ideally.

    Read rest of blog – make mental note good stuff here – think some more about it when I’m not so busy with everything!

    That’s done marvellous things for a few minutes distraction!

    Spot on….


    • edreidyork · June 24, 2011

      Hi Steve – thanks for your first comment! Good to see you again the other day – look forward to a more thorough catch up on AMBA in September

  2. Andy Douse · June 24, 2011

    Happy birthday Ed’s blog. Always an interesting and enjoyable read. Please keep ’em coming.

    • edreidyork · June 24, 2011

      Thanks Andy – particularly for your unstinting support of the blog – always enjoy your comments!

  3. Rory Ryan · June 24, 2011

    Ed, That’s freakish! My plan this morning is to shut off email, divert the mobile and the landline, close the office door, put on music and surface at 5pm having designed a consulate building for an embassy. Happy birthday to a great blog.

    • edreidyork · June 24, 2011

      Liking the idea of new consulate building by Rory Ryan Architects – good luck!

  4. Jessica Kemp · June 24, 2011

    happy birthday to ed’s blog! i have to agree with Steve, spot on yet again, but then i look forward to your blogs landing in my inbox now for my moment of distraction, always worthwhile brain fodder 🙂

    • edreidyork · June 24, 2011

      Hi Jess – great to hear from you, and thanks to you too for always having been a contributor – keep it up!

  5. Rebecca Gardner · June 24, 2011

    That’s just boosted me to head downstairs and shut the door…

    …. and I am pregnant and looking to keep fit – know anyone?

    • edreidyork · June 24, 2011

      Hi Rebecca – glad it’s worked for you, and yes I genuinely do know someone who does exactly what you’re looking for! Will drop you an email with details.

      Congrats to you and Andy!

  6. Dave Rawlings · June 24, 2011

    In my old company we used to complain about having to keep too many balls in the air. So when a bonus scheme was introduced, which paid out for meeting objectives, we all focused on our “bonus balls”.
    I can recommend it!

    • edreidyork · June 24, 2011

      Saturday night lottery – eat your heart out! I don’t think I can say anything more on “bonus balls”…

  7. David Casey · June 25, 2011

    Hi Ed,

    Great blog! I have Napolean Hill’s book sat on my dresser with the intention to re-read it…so today’s as good as day as any to start!



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