On doing just a few good things

“Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

I wish to think that in order to be a master at one’s craft, we need to practice it constantly, every single day, with complete devotion. If not how else can we be considered a master or an expert? What are the benchmarks?

Think of what you want to be doing as a toolbox, it could mean that you are a marketer, salesman, coach, plumper, etc. Your toolbox will be the tools you need in order for you to perform the job. You could have different types of screwdrivers, nuts, etc, in the toolbox. And each tool inside the toolbox represents a single skill. All the tools combined are a repository of skills you possess required to perform the job. The more skills you have, the better you are able to pick and choose from the toolbox to complete the task you have on hand. If you have a particular ‘tool’, in which it is a skill you have just picked up, you might need some getting used to, which means practice.

So build up your toolbox, one tool at a time.

Build up your repository of skill sets, one skill at a time.

Then practice your skills in the real world.

And always maintain your toolbox of skills. Neglect of tools may cause rusting of the tools. Thus one must always seek to maintain the quality of the tools. As Stephen Covey says: We must seek to sharpen the saw to keep ourselves refreshed.

But we cannot have it all. We may not be able to learn multiple skill sets at the same time. Well, you can, but you won’t be very good at all of them. It’s just like being a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’, rather than mastering one skill at a time.

Coming back to the perpetual devotion. We should always seek to ignore distractions, whereby distraction means something that is not your priority right now, as of that moment. A fine example is notifications. Do you really need to reply that message, check who liked you photo, google something that is seemingly unrelated to your current tasks? Why do we jump into the sea of distraction when we have decided to work on the high priority task standing at the beach? It takes time and effort to wade back to the beach, pick up our tools, and continue working.

If only one could do just 3 important things per day, we would have done 21 important things per week. And that’s some good progress.

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