When you watch the Olympics, and you watch, say, Michael Phelps swim, you have to sometimes wonder why he just swims. Why, if he is such a great athlete, doesn’t he give running a try? I bet he’d be pretty fast on the track.
Hell, his back is so strong, he could probably contribute to the rowing team too, right? Why is he limiting himself?
In the long, and short, amount of time we have on this earth, it is often thought that we should be trying a million different things. For the curious at heart, it’s hard not to want to be a great musician, have a great career as an engineer, have a great career as a photographer, and have a great career as a marketing genius. Let’s all be Don Draper on steroids, our curious minds have us thinking.
Michael Phelps, and every other extremely successful person you’ve read about or dreamed of emulating, ignored those curious thoughts. Michael Phelps chose one thing he wanted to be good at: swimming. Then, he swam. He swam every day. When he wasn’t swimming, he was thinking about swimming. When he wasn’t thinking about swimming, he was dreaming about swimming. He learned to balance his life around swimming, and he never gave up the desire to become an expert.
This, right here, was a bit of a divine realization for myself. There are so many interesting things in the world, and if I had several lifetimes to do them all, then you bet I would. I bet you would too.
Neurosurgery, master chef, famous violinist, rocket scientist…the list goes on and on. There are so many intriguing, awesome things that life could offer us, if we opened our arms and took in all the information.
Experts don’t do that. Michael Phelps understands that he could have probably made a really nice career as a rower, but he swims. He could have been a discus thrower, a decathlete, who knows? But he swims. He is an expert at one thing and one thing only: swimming. Ted Williams devoted his life to being the greatest hitter that ever lived. He loved fishing, but he gave it up when it got in the way of his hitting. Michael Jordan played basketball–there was no part time anything else.
The unfocused dreamer ends up becoming mediocre at a thousand different things–the superstars, the geniuses, the millionaires, they pick one thing, and keep doing that one thing, until they are amazing at it. And then? Guess what, they keep doing it.
If you want to be wildly successful, it is your duty to pick one thing, and one thing only, and carry that to the finish line.
For those of you who have grown fond of this blog, and found that my posts have been less and less frequent lately, allow me to apologize. It was in my quest to determine what I wanted to be an expert at that I realized I had it all wrong. This blog, helping people, helping you, will be a fantastic hobby for me. I love writing in here, I love hearing that my words make a difference in your lives, but I realize that this cannot detract from my future expertise.
Monotony, constant tinkering, relentless devotion to one thing and one thing only–that is what will make me an expert, and that is what will make you an expert.
The only question you have is, what do you want to be better at than anyone else in the world? What is the one thing you are willing to continue doing until there is nobody better than you?
Answer that, and you will be the Michael Phelps of whatever you dream.