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…