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I recently came across an article by Leo Babauta from Zenhabits. He talks about how being successful in making a living doing what you love comes down to the simplistic idea “Do one thing really well”. It’s not a particularly new idea, but it is something businesses and people looking to go out on their own struggle with. The temptation of making a quick buck by accepting work that you know can do, even if it’s not what you’re about. Trying to please everyone and wanting to be liked – it can be tough to say no to a potential client without guilt or ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) creeping in.

There are businesses like Hiut Denim, who have committed to making the best jeans they can, or places like IMAX that aim to bring viewers the biggest and best mega screen experience on the planet. Or you can hone in on one particular idea rather than a product, like Apple, who focus on producing innovative and intuitive technology, and Penguin Classics who strive to bring a full range of literary classics to the masses via inexpensive paperbacks.

Through their simplicity they’ve become masters in their field by sticking to their core values, and fine-tuning their products and concept. The perceived value of their product offerings increases to a point where their fans are willing to pay for that value at a premium price. They make it easy for consumers to cut through the noise and easily make a choice, without being paralysed by all the options on offer. When we think about buying a new phone, ‘iPhone’ rings out loud and clear.

So, how can you do one thing well?

“Narrow down what you do, and do it repeatedly. Learn, grow, improve, read, watch, do it some more.”  – Leo Babauta

A simple execution for a simple idea. Do your thing, and do it over and over. Do it over and over with a focus on your purpose. If you love doing what you do, it won’t feel like drudgery. And if it does feel tedious, do it over some more, until you get really good at it. Once you’re really good at something, it becomes easier to see the joy in doing it.

And while you’re working on getting better at your one thing, don’t be afraid to let go of others. Do you have so many products on offer that the value of each is diminished? Working on so many different pieces of writing about disconnected topics that you’re not able to infuse any particular one with what you’re all about? Does what you do today lead you in the direction that you want to go in tomorrow, and does it match up with your vision? Like a messy household full of things you don’t need, a cluttered blog, product range, or target market can break any clarity for you and your customer.

3 things to think about so that you can start doing one thing well.

  • What is your signature offering? Anything else that you offer might be weighing you down, so don’t be afraid to cull
  • What can you do to make the task enjoyable? Do you need to get back to basics and do your work without thinking about how to make money? Maybe you need to push through an uncomfortable learning curve so that you can focus on creativity rather than technique
  • What can you do to improve what you do? You might need to set a time to have daily or weekly practice sessions, try new techniques, or hire a coach to push you in the right direction.

Focus, practice, and love what you do. Expertise and clarity will follow!

We’d love to hear what you do well – let us know in the comments below.

Image credit: *** Fanch The System !!! *** via Compfight cc

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About the author

Melissa Whidjaya

Melissa Whidjaya

Writer and creative entrepreneur cheerleader

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