Seth Godin, the world’s number one marketing blogger wrote the following in a recent blog. “If you own a lot of acres but just have a few bags of seed, you might be tempted to spread out what you’ve got and cover as much territory as you can. Farmers tell me that this is wasteful and time consuming. You end up with less yield and more work.” Using too much land (trying to cover it all) wastes precious time, fuel, and fertilizer, not to mention unnecessary wear and tear on equipment and wasted weed and pest control. Also, land that is wasted by trying to cover it all could be producing some other valuable crop, thereby creating greater value.
Seth was specifically addressing the increasing dilemma we all face regarding the growing number of media channels and social networks available to each of us. He continues saying, “The number of media channels available to you keeps growing. The number of places you can spend time and money is almost endless. Yet your budget isn’t. Your time certainly isn’t. Some people would have you spend a little time on each social network…”
More and more people are wasting irreplaceable time and energy by trying to “cover them all” and focus on too many media social networking channels. One could easily spend several hours each and every day just trying to stay abreast of all the “upgrades” and changes of two or three of the most popular channels such as blogging, your website(s), email enhancements, Facebook, MySpace, and the latest craze, Twitter. Unless you have a boat load of money and an army of people you can assign to these channels, it is impossible to “cover them all” and be effective in each. Enormous amounts of time are required to subscribe, keep all your profiles and information up to date, learn how to most effectively use and leverage each channel, respond to all requests for information and collaboration, build and engage a critical mass on each channel, not to mention all kinds of other necessary maintenance to maintain a quality presence.
The ever increasing media and social networking channels is a microcosm (some might say a macrocosm), of life, work and success in general. The key to success is to select very carefully… and then go deep!
Sports provide a great analogy. Extremely rare is the individual who can continue to participate in more than one sport and become, much less maintain, the level of first class or world class. Even for the most gifted athletes in the world, overlap of seasons, use of different muscles and different motor skills in different ways, injuries, less preparation time for a specific sport, and less focus and concentration are just some of the reasons it is virtually impossible to be first class or world class in more than one sport. Do we see Tiger Woods playing basketball or running track? I think not. Even the super talented and highly disciplined Michael Jordon found it difficult to reach the performance level he desired in baseball.
Academics provide another great analogy. Very few scholars can specialize in more than one narrow area and be first class or world class.
What about the study and practice of medicine? When was the last time you looked for a cardiologist or some other specialist who happened to be free to replace your hip or knee?
What about musicians? Have you seen or heard Yo-Yo Ma playing the harp or guitar lately? Of course not.
Variety and diversity is wonderful in terms of a full, interesting and exciting life. We all should explore and experience our worlds to the maximum extent possible. Variety is, in fact, one of the important spices of life. However, when it comes to your core competency or the area in which you specialize for your life’s work, too much variety, diversity, and trying to “cover it all” by spreading yourself too thin can and will be disastrous!
Resist the tempation to chase after everything or induldge in all the lastest fads… including media channels and social networks. In all areas of your life, select very carefully… and then go deep. You will have already eliminated well over 90% of the competition.
If you want to succeed, thrive and grow for the longterm, select very carefully… and then go deep!