By Shawn Lovejoy
I was an athlete in high school. I was fairly quick and agile (if I do say so myself), so I could play just about any sport at a reasonably high level. I played some basketball and baseball, but football was my sweet spot. Football was my passion. I lived and breathed it. I played tight end and cornerback. I loved to run (I’m proud of my fastest forty-yard dash time: 4:65). I even loved to hit people (in legal ways). There was a season in my life when I focused fifty-two weeks a year on becoming the best tight end in our state. While other athletes played basketball, baseball, lacrosse, and track, I focused solely on becoming a one-sport star. I eventually made All-County and All-Region. I even received a few scholarship offers from smaller schools, but decided to take another route in my life (honestly, you would never have heard of me if I hadn’t). In any case, focus took me further than I could have gone any other way.
Most sports require intense focus for success. There are only a few select athletes in history who have succeeded at the highest levels playing multiple sports. There are only a few famous exceptions: people like Bo Jackson and “Prime Time” Deion Sanders (known more for his touchdown dances). Michael Jordan couldn’t even be successful in multiple sports! Most athletes know that in the long run, you can’t be great at everything.
Did you know this is true for the organizations we lead? We can’t be successful at everything. We won’t win if we try to do everything. One of the most common mistakes organizations make is trying to do too much. We try to be all things to all people. We launch too many programs and too many products, hoping that will attract people and keep them. But the world of athletics reminds us we can’t be great at everything. The best way to be great is to be great at one thing, not everything.
What does your organization have the potential to be the best in the world at? To get there, you have some very tough decisions ahead of you. As the vision becomes clearer, it’s just as important you decide what not to do, as it is to decide what you’re going to do. You’re not great at everything, but you can potentially becomes great at one thing. That’s good news! The less we do, the greater our odds of success! Our focus will largely determine the level of our success.
So… what can your organization potentially become great at? Quit everything else and go for it.
Shawn Lovejoy is the Founder & CEO of CourageToLead.com a coaching ministry for leaders. He is the author of Be Mean About The Vision: Preserving and Protecting What Matters.