“Put all your eggs in one basket. Then you’re less likely to drop that basket.”

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In a conversation about the correlation between ambition and success, Dave Trott once told me an interesting story. He’d been at a Landmark Forum session (a kind of personal development conference) and a guy had stood up and said “I want to be the best piano player in the world”. Dave’s take on it was that this is actually two things and the bloke needed to make a choice between them. Did he want to be a piano player? If so, he simply needed to rearrange his life so he had time to get stuck into playing the piano a lot. He might not ever be the best but he may well be able to do it for a living. Or did he want to be the best in the world at something? If so he needed to find the thing he was a potential world beater at and concentrate on that.

Similarly, the title of this post is edited from some very insightful advice given by the boxer David Haye. The full quote is “Put all your eggs in one basket. Then you’re less likely to drop that basket. Many people want to do a million things, but they don’t focus on any one. They don’t have a path. Find what you excel at as early as possible and focus on that.”

Do you want to be a great copywriter? A CD? Do innovative work? Make lots of money? Win awards? Start your own agency? Be famous? Change the world? There may well be some overlap in some of these ambitions but I reckon the most direct path to success and happiness is the simplest, most focused one. Be specific. As soon as you possibly can, work out what it is you want to do and what is achievable with your unique skillset and personality. Then, forget all the distractions of other stuff you could do or might enjoy and work like a lunatic possessed to get to your goal. Simples, as our Russian meerkat friend would say.

EDIT: By a freaky coincidence, Dave Trott wrote about this incident himself, yesterday. You can get the story from the horse’s mouth (and see what a bad memory I’ve got!), here: http://davetrott.co.uk/2013/07/reductio-ad-absurdum/

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About antmelder
Creative Partner at DDB Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

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