Wandering generality versus meaningful specific

Courtesy Tom Cooper. CC
Courtesy Tom Cooper. CC

I mentioned that I listened to Tim Ferriss interview Seth Godin last week. It’s a fantastic interview. If you’re interested in business, self-improvement, or general intellectual enlightenment, I strongly recommend listening.

Seth mentioned something near the end of the interview. He talked about the importance of being a meaningful specific, rather than a wandering generality. It was poetic. The language stuck with me.

One of Seth’s mentors was Zig Ziglar. Zig was an author and motivational speaker. He had a background in sales, and talked extensively about personal and professional improvement.

Seth has mentioned in many interviews how important Zig’s work was to him. He tells the story of listening to Zig’s cassette tapes so often that the tapes wore out. Seth had to buy replacement copies, so he could continue listening on repeat.

You’re trying to learn more about business. You might be seeking a promotion, or a change in career path, or a way to start your own business. No matter where you’re you’re going, the idea of a wandering generality versus a meaningful specific is important.

What’s this idea all about? Take the first comparison: “wandering” versus “meaningful”. The difference is in being deliberate. When you wander, forces carry you where they may. When you have meaning, you offer intention. You’re focused. The difference is profound.

Now take the second comparison: “generality” versus “specific”. It’s difficult to be specific. It’s easier to broaden your pursuits, to dig a mile wide, and an inch deep. But to make a true difference in the world, to change the lives of the people around you, you almost certainly have to stay focused.

That doesn’t mean you have to do the exact same thing, day after day. It does mean, however, that you need to know where you can make an impact, and you need to focus relentlessly there. Know what your strengths are. Know where you bring the most unique value. Ignore or delegate the rest.

Here’s Zig explaining it in his own words, in the context of goal setting. Fast forward to the 3:00 minute mark for the conversation about wandering generality versus meaningful specific.

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