Focus & Diversify

Focus & Diversify

“Far from being one of the world’s great risk takers, Bill Gates might more accurately be thought of as one of the world’s greatest risk mitigators.”
- Rick Smith

When you’re young, you feel as if your energy is limitless. Your schedule is clear, your life is malleable; you have few, if any, commitments.

Then you begin to choose what you like to do and commit to the things you have to do, ranging from playing soccer in the park to going to a dentist’s appointment or making sure your homework gets done. Eventually, you wake up one day and your plate is full.

The key to fulfillment is making sure your days are filled with things and people that are both enjoyable and challenging.

The key to great achievement is to determine which of those enjoyable and challenging pursuits you can be best in your world at and focus most of your energy on manifesting within that domain. Shunning pursuits you enjoy but don’t allow you to excel beyond the ordinary.

But if you focus your energy on a small number of interests, doesn’t that mean you’re increasing your level of risk? Putting all your eggs in one basket?

The answer is no. Individuals and organizations that achieve the unbelievable understand the difference between focusing their energy and diversifying their portfolio.

Bill Gates didn’t just leave Harvard one day to focus all his energy on Microsoft. He waited an entire year after he sold his first software program, applied for a formal leave of absence—so he had the option to return—and was bankrolled by his parents.

Phil Knight, founder of Nike, may have started selling shoes in 1964, but he didn’t leave his job as an accountant until 1969. He was forced to launch his own brand Nike in 1971, after the dissolution of his partnership importing Onitsuka Tigers (now ASICS).

Great creators do everything they can to focus their energy on a chosen pursuit, but they mitigate their risk by diversifying their portfolios.

In the investment world, diversification is a financial risk management technique mixing a wide variety of investments within a larger group. Creators use the same approach. When they recognize they may be taking a high-risk action in one area of their life, such as starting a new company. They take steps to actively diminish that risk in other areas of their life, such as keeping their day job until the business gets off the ground or waiting until their spouse has a steady income.

We’re all born with the desire to create, to make magic, to share some version of our true self. Unfortunately, our energy isn’t limitless, our schedules aren’t clear and our lives aren’t completely malleable. The good news is, neither was Bill Gates’s.

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