- June 9, 2017
- Posted by: pblafrica
- Category: Blog
When I was young, I used to love reading animal fables. One of my favourite was about the hare and a tortoise. The hare, in his flair, was proud and was known to taunt his fellow animals to wit. And he would beat them to the game!
It was therefore no surprise that one morning he approached the Lazy Tortoise to a race to the river bank. And to everyone’s astonishment, the slow Tort accepted the challenge. You can imagine the rest of the animal gang gathering on the sidelines of the track, jeering at the tortoise. Finally the race was started and the hare shot off, proud that he would win. The tortoise in his usual mode just slopped off the start line and descended the hill, slowly and with sure steps. But surprise, at the finish line, the cheering squad found the hare was yet to arrive, and the tortoise, in his fashion slow pace, strutted the finish line and went into slumber under his shell.
In life too, we have people representing these two classes. In business likewise, we have the hares and tortoises. What many have animals never knew as the reason why the clearly slow paced tortoise won the race is the fact that he was focused. The hare, in his usual character, and confident that he was the preferred winner, went about his business shifting focus on the way and forgot he was in a race with the tortoise!
I have come across many of us entrepreneurs who talk of big dreams, establishing big corporations yet what they do is totally wrong –lack of focus. A famous management guru, Jim Collins said that firms who dominate their sectors are ones which concentrate their activities in one core area and spot and develop passion in it. It is obvious each and every one of us has only a passion for one thing. You cannot be good at several things and hence, it is upon us to find out what out passion spot is and work on it.
I have seen many young entrepreneurs start out enterprises with multiple streams of incomes at once, and maybe that explains the high failure rate of businesses especially in our country. I always ask my talk audience to go learn about why Indian firms outlive their founders while indigenous African firms die off with their founders. It is because of that one secret – the power of focus. All Indian business setups deal with only one single line of commodity as opposed to ours, where it is a conglomeration of several in our attempts to earn much. At the end of the day, we realize the returns are too low and the model is therefore not sustainable. It is commonly said that you cannot be a jack of all trades. You will most definitely be a master of none!
Back to my story of two animals: Jim Collins used the demonstration of one philosopher called Isaiah Berlin who said that people are classified into two main groups – foxes and hedgehogs. Foxes pursue several objectives at once and would want to utilize the time at their disposal to achieve all of them at once. The hogs, on the other hand, know only one way to achieve an objective and would spend their time executing it until they achieve their objective! In the end, the foxes fail in most of their endeavours while the hogs achieve 100% results in what they put themselves down to do.
For the hair, he paid so many distractions on the way that he forgot his main objective – to race. How many of us are in this situation? How many fail to achieve our potential in life or in business just because we lack focus?
At the end of the day, the successful in business or at the work place are not they who do many things at once. It is them that do one thing at a time and perfect it. You can only be a specialist in an area if you put all your focus in it -effort and resources. Let us make a resolve and be the tortoise!