Pick a Path and Go the Extra Mile

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Specialization is the future. In the early days of the Olympic Games there used to be the Pentathlon, where the same athletes would compete in 5 different games. The winners were the most celebrated and considered the fittest of all athletes. But as the games grew more competitive athletes began to specialize and focus more on breaking world records than winning the pentathlon. And now the world no longer celebrate pentathletes, we celebrate Usain Bolt and other world record holders. We only care about the best in each sporting category rather than the best across numerous categories.

image: ytfc.net
And that's what the professional/business world is turning to. Long gone are the days when polymaths ruled the business world, people who could negotiate business in many languages and combine several business skills/ventures. The world is now dominated by people who do one thing extremely well. The biggest companies are no longer conglomerates. There is now so much competition that no one can survive for long spreading himself or his company across several industries. You will keep facing fierce competition in every industry you take a bite off, from young dynamic companies focused solely on one thing. 

Take a look at the phone manufacturing industry. There used to be Siemens phone, Sagem, Trium, Panasonic and until recently, Nokia. Then industry grew so competitive that companies whose core business wasn't phone manufacturing got seriously burnt. The same is happening in the computing hardware industries. HP, Alcatel, IBM and other companies who were trying to do it all, manufacturing everything from computers to printers, are now dying and having to pick one line of business to focus on. 

It's only in Africa and Asia that the biggest companies are the ones attempting to do everything: from petroleum to noodles. It was like that too in US 100 years ago. But now the world is converging really fast, specialized companies are no longer limiting themselves to their local market. They now aim at the entire global market. Google is now eating deep into our advertising industry, taking more adverts placement than any other company in Nigeria. Chinese manufacturing companies are making the textile industry and electronics manufacturing industry unprofitable for any indigenous player.

Specialized computer language programmers now make more money that general practitioners (a multi-skilled doctor). Footballers make more money than the business professional whose CV is 12 pages long. Today's heroes are those who picked a path and went a mile beyond everyone on that path. If you want to remain relevant and not have to fight wolves on all sides, then pick a particular career or business path, resist the temptation to spread yourself too thin and go the extra mile.

1 comment:

  1. Great advice, Michael. But I also think that there are some people who, if they actually 'specialize' and focus on just 1 thing, they will not fully realize their potentials and be fulfilled in life. However, it's also possible for them to specialize and then motivate other people to help them achieve those 'other dreams' they have, catch my drift? Nice post here though. -David Adeleke (www.davidadeleke.com)


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