In business, particularly creative freelancing, we are advised to focus. Specialize, pick a niche. Develop your signature look or style. Zero in on your goals and pursue them with laser-like gusto. And it makes good sense. Since we can’t possibly please everyone we are better off delighting those who respond to our work.
But too much focus can turn into blinders. Racehorses are fitted with blinders to block their peripheral vision. By eliminating distractions, they are free to channel their attention down the track and ultimately the finish line.
In the context of a closed track, this kind of focus is beneficial.
But in the real world where we are presented with thousands of potential opportunities, this kind of focus can be harmful.
I was once presented with an incredible career opportunity. It was a leadership position with bigger responsibilities and an even bigger paycheck. A real career changer.
It was the big break I had always hoped for, and when they offered it to me I was all in. Like 300% all in. I was committed to the long hours and the added pressures. I was even ready to relocate if asked.
I was totally focused.
And then came delays. Weeks turning into months. Trying to raise capital. Meetings and proposals and phone calls with investors. And a mountain of emails.
But still more delays. Always the well-intended promise of “We’re almost there” and “The bankers say two more weeks.”
Yet I remained focused.
And I waited. And I waited some more. And some more. A whole year went by. I ignored and passed on other opportunities, ever hopeful this new position would materialize.
But then, I started getting frustrated—and so did my wife. And my friends grew weary of my explanations. I began to feel foolish and berated myself for not taking a stand sooner. I had so wanted this deal to work out that I couldn’t see the blinders I had on. I had blocked my peripheral vision. I had closed myself off.
For eighteen long months.
Finally, I took the blinders off. The opportunity cost of continuing to wait had grown too large. And it was cankering my soul. I gave them my notice and walked away.
It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from off my shoulders and it is was lesson I will not soon forget: Perhaps I had been focusing too much on that one thing.
To your good fortune!