Singleness of Focus

Think and Grow Rich is one of the most successful self improvement books of all time.  This book, written in the early part of the 20th century, is the result of years of study of the most successful and powerful men in the United States at that time.  The author, who later went on to head up Success Magazine, spent two decades researching what made these men different from everyone else.  And, the result has become the secret which is contain in every page of that book.


We live in a multi-tasking world.  Everyone tries to do multiple things at one time.  Throughout our day, while we are working, we are continually interrupted by instant messages and emails.  People also appear in person in our offices/work space creating more disruption.  Ultimately, productivity is lost because of the fact we are continually starting and stopping.

The solution to this, we are told, is to focus upon one thing at a time.  Our minds are created in such a way that it can consciously focus only upon one area.  While it moves at a speed that is measured in nanoseconds, even the slightest move away from the present task is an interruption.  The problem with this is that a "restart" is required where one determines where he or she left off and what the next step is.  In many cases, this is instant but, if the interruption is lengthy, it can take a bit longer.

What I just revealed to you is not great secret.  Most of you have heard that same mantra repeatedly.  However, Think and Grow Rich dealt with focus on another level.  The scenario I just described takes a micro view of activity.  Stone, the author, took a more macro approach.  It was his conclusion that the men he studied could attribute their success to a single-minded focus in their field.  They did not diversify or hedge to prevent loss.  Instead, they were 100% committed to their beliefs and the industry they were operating in.  Carnegie was a steel man.  Rockefeller oil.  In later years, we see the same thing with some of the national business giants.  Sam Walton was a retailer.  Bill Gates sold operating systems.  In fact, many entities encountered trouble when they got away from their chosen field (think HP moving into computers instead of focusing exclusively on printers).

The bottom line is that history's greatest leaders often had the single-minded focus to concentrate all their efforts in one area.  They were not "jack-of-all-trades" but, rather, experts in their chosen professions.  It was their expertise which enabled them to make decisions and move their companies in directions most never would have considered.

True Resolve

Along with a single-minded focus, the other aspect that separated these men from the general population is their resolve to make their vision materialize.  The ability to focus upon one area helped to increase their knowledge and general abilities to navigate troubles that periodically arose.  However, nothing great is ever accomplished without the unending resolve to be successful.  In other words, failure was not an option.  While things went wrong from time-to-time, these were nothing more than temporary setbacks.  No matter what happened, their resolve was to continue forward.

The basic formula looks something like this:

A focus on a major vision + unending resolve to make that come true = success

Notice there is no waffling or indecision.  These men were dedicated to the path they chose.  They cut off all other possibility of than the outcome they desired and were willing to work as hard and long as necessary to make it come true.  Contrast this with what most people do which is to quit at the first sign of difficulty.  The general population mostly lacks the general vision which stops then immediately.  However, even those who do have some insight into what they want will usually succumb when difficulties arise.  And this is the basic reason why some succeed while most other fail.  Setbacks are temporary but giving up is permanent.

Hence, we are at the point where you have a decision to make.  What is it that you want?  What is your overriding vision?  Consider your values and what is important to you and develop a plan of where you want to be?  This is the first part of the process.  After that, once it is clear in your mind, commit 1000% to making that outcome a reality.  Success requires both parts.  It is impossible to attain anything above mediocre any other way.  Shortcuts do not work.  Unless you are 1000% committed to a clear, concise vision, then you are going to encounter difficulty.  Eliminate future setbacks by following the path of success which has stood the test of time.  Certainly if this equation was good enough for Andrew Carnegie, then it is good enough for you.

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