On my bookshelf at home, I have about 30 business and self-help books that are half read. I bought all of them on a whim because something in them peaked my interest.
But as I got halfway into the books, I found my interest start to fade. I didn’t have the desire to finish them because they weren’t really helping me.
It’s not that these books weren’t valuable, it’s just that at this particular time in my life they weren’t valuable to me. This is because I only had a passing interest in the topic of the book, not a focused desire to learn something.
In contrast, over the past five years I have been very focused on becoming a professional keynote speaker. In that time, I have learned an incredible amount that has helped me get start getting paid and to speak to audiences around the world. I have read maybe twenty books on the topic as well as being mentored by some of the best speakers in the world.
And not once have I lost interest, or not wanted to learn more.
What I realize is that the narrow focus of wanting to be a professional speaker has helped me gather the knowledge I need, and then to practice it. Instead of having a general interest in public speaking, I am focussed on how to use the skill.
I think this is an important distinction, especially in today’s overstimulated world. It’s easy to half read a lot of books, open too many tabs on our computer, or listen to people who can’t really help us.
What solves this time waster is a narrow focus. If you spend five years just focused on building one skill, or achieving one goal, you will find all the knowledge you need. It will all be useful to you, and you won’t grow bored of learning about it.
All it really takes is knowing what you want, and then saying no to the other ‘interesting’ or ‘exciting’ distractions that can become a part of your life.
It’s easy to be half interested in a lot of things, but it’s actually unsatisfying compared to a narrow clear focus.