Vail Daily column: A single focus multiplies success

Michael Norton
Climbing to Success

I am not sure about you, but when it comes to multitasking, I like to think that I am really good at it — that is until I am forced to realize that I’m not.

Now it’s not that I haven’t tried to get as much done as possible in the shortest amount of time. It’s just that when I have tried to defy the odds and prove that I could effectively multitask, all I really accomplished was diluting my efforts of every task and deluding myself that I actually pulled it off.


One of my favorite business books of all-time is Jim Collins book “Good to Great.” And sometimes I have to remind myself of one of the key principles that Collins focuses on in this book — it’s called The Hedgehog Concept. Basically, he shares that the one thing that the hedgehog can do better than any other creature alive is defend itself. And the point he makes is that companies and people need to identify what it is that they can do better than anyone else and stay committed to that path, focusing on the core competencies and strengths of the business or individual.

How about you? Are you multitasking to the point of dilution and delusion? Maybe it’s time to get some clarity and focus on you and your core strengths.

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The same holds true for most of us sometimes, don’t you think? I mean, how many of us know someone who tries to be everything to everybody? Maybe some of us are even guilty of doing this ourselves. We say “yes” to everything and, as a result, we wind up juggling so many things that we eventually wind up dropping the balls we are trying so hard to keep in the air.


This is when we have to learn to say “no” more often so that we can say “yes” to the truly important things and people in our lives.

Saying “no” can be so hard sometimes, can’t it? I mean, family and friends come to us and need our help and ask for our help, and what are we supposed to do? Tell them “no?” Yes, that is exactly what we are supposed to do sometimes. But we can’t possibly say “no” when the church or temple asks us to help out, can we? Yes, that is okay, too.

You see it’s not about learning to say “no” all of the time; it’s managing our responses so that we can focus on what it is we are really good at — our own core competencies. And when we can apply those strengths in a situation where we can assist others, we will be adding true value and will minimize the amount of times we feel like we are spread so thin that we have to multitask in order to get caught up.


A single focus doesn’t stifle growth, it actually multiplies success.

Just think about it for a minute. Think about a relationship where you applied complete and total focus on that person. I’ll bet the relationship in question flourished. If you are in sales, think of a customer where you were so focused on their needs and not what you were selling that it probably resulted in a sale and a customer for life.

A quote by diplomat and economist Dag Hammarskjold always drives this point home for me. He says, “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.” I sometimes substitute the word “individual” with other words like, “project” or “committee” or “company” as a single focus on anything can and will multiply our successes.

How about you? Are you multitasking to the point of dilution and delusion? Maybe it’s time to get some clarity and focus on you and your core strengths. As always, I would love to hear all about it at, because when we live with such singular intent and focus, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach, and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

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