It seems that many of the top “self-help” gurus these days have come to describe the essence of their work in one word:

Brene Brown = Vulnerability
Susan Cain = Quiet (the Quiet Revolution of introverts)
Angela Duckworth = Grit
Seth Godin = Tribes

It becomes a de facto marketing tool, but I think it gives them an anchor upon which to link all of their other work. It is very easy to go wide instead of deep; in fact I think momentum pulls you in a multitude of directions and it is actually harder to stay narrow.

As I write this, my office is scattered from one end to another with documents and articles to assemble into a major grant. I need to keep going back to my goal statement to narrow the focus of writing and to keep the scope within reason. It would be easier to put everything in, but I think it is more effective to keep much of it out.

The same is true for strategic planning. In my opinion, the most effective plans are those that have a laser focus — a short list vs. a long one — and that say no more than they say yes.

Stu McLaren gives a similar admonition to all aspiring entrepreneurs: “Become known for something specific.” He followed his own advice and is now THE guru for establishing on-line membership sites. It is a fairly narrow niche, but one that has netted him millions.

And author Dan Pink has put it another way: “Figure out the 1%.” He says that distilling the essence of an idea or an argument goes a long way in figuring out the other 99%.

It all leads to the same conclusion: having a core focus is critical for success. You can’t become an expert in everything, but if you define it succinctly, you can become the expert in your something.

What word will you own? (sorry, but “dots” is already taken!)

beth triplett

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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