You’ve probably heard the expression, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” before. In business this usually means you should diversify, because if you put all your efforts into one thing, you will be devastated when that thing tanks, especially if you don’t have a backup plan.
I find this philosophy to be pessimistic, because it assumes that the thing you’re putting your effort into is going to fail. What you expect to happen generally happens. That isn’t to say that you should be naive, or think in unrealistic terms, but it’s not productive to premeditate failure either.
I think it’s important to look at the entirety of what you’re doing and invent new possibilities around both/and. Some people are either/or people. Others are both/and people. I like to think in terms of both/and because I like the challenge of trying to connect the dots between everything I do.
This isn’t to discount the importance of focus. Focus is a critical factor to your success and determining your individual focus can be empowering. But I think it is more realistic to assume that you have multiple areas of focus. Even if your business is your focus, your health is important, and if you don’t have your health, you might not have a business at all. So, in that instance, you have at least two focuses.
I say at least because you might have a spouse and kids, and other relatives you care about. So, now you have three focuses. But wait. You care about your financial future too, and as a business owner you know how important it is to manage your money. So, now you have four focuses. And on and on it goes.
Instead of saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, I’ve started saying “take the eggs in your basket and run with them.”
At times, I’ve had trouble determining a singular focus for myself, despite knowing the importance of that action. Knowledge doesn’t always turn into action.
You know exactly what you need to do if you want to lose weight. You need to eat better, exercise and get sleep. Has that knowledge translated into concrete action? Have you created a sustainable habit for yourself?
But sometimes changing how you look at things can create new possibilities.
I’ve realized that if my focus encompasses everything I’m doing, then it is a singular focus. If it’s a way of being, then it’s substantial — it has weight in the real world, and not just in the realm of thought.
In the past, I left many ideas behind thinking I would never look back on them. But just as I thought I had my priorities in order, I would have new cognitions around what I could do to build those ideas.
So, I started thinking to myself, “maybe there is a way to move forward with everything I’m doing”.
If an egg gets dropped along the way, so be it. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. I’m not going to worry about the eggs that fall to the ground.
But I recognized that there must be a reason why there are certain eggs in my basket. There must be a reason I decided to pick them up in the first place. After all, there’s no one forcing me to pick them up and hold onto them. It was my decision!
In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell proposed that it takes 10,000 hours to master an instrument, craft, skill, trade, or profession. Mastery is not an overnight process. There is no instant gratification. It takes time, effort, and perseverance.
Maybe what I’m mastering is the art of both/and — finding a meaningful connection between the eggs. And, as we know, a long-term mindset is required for mastery.
Author and entrepreneur Robert Kiyosaki notes that one should put at least five years of effort forward in any business venture they undertake. A lot of people think they would be rich if they just struck oil. Kiyosaki has a business mindset (instead of an employee mindset), so he raises funds and hires people to do the work. Sometimes he doesn’t see any personal return on the business until five to 10 years down the line. Sometimes he doesn’t see any return, and the business venture flops.
In my life, I’ve been giving all my projects a fair chance. Maybe I will see a return on investment five years down the line. Maybe it will take 10 years. Maybe some of the projects will never bear fruit.
But because I have a long-term mindset, I spend less time evaluating how things are going from day to day or month to month. Sure, I still take time to reflect on the progress I’ve made. But constantly checking in on the harvest does nothing to further the dream. It’s kind of discouraging actually.
Maybe you’ve been blessed with the exact eggs you need be nurturing. Maybe focus is just getting focused on the eggs in your basket.