July 17, 2020

Focus on One Thing at a Time

You know what's fascinating about the story of Amazon?

Not that Jeff Bezos started Amazon in his garage in Bellevue, Washington.

Not that his parents invested close to $300,000 in his business.

Not that he wanted to name his company as 'Cadabra' until his lawyer asked him to reconsider the name because it sounded similar to 'Cadaver.'

Not that when you type relentless.com, you are redirected to Amazon.com.

Not that it's now the biggest retailer in the world surpassing Walmart.

But the fact that when Jeff Bezos started Amazon, he solely focused on selling books and remained committed to his vision of becoming the largest online bookstore in the world.

In other words, Bezos wanted to be a big player in a small space but he still had to face challenges.

Barnes and Noble sued Amazon for advertising as 'Earth's biggest bookstore' stating that Amazon was a "book broker" and not really a bookstore.

However Jeff Bezos was hyper focused on making Amazon the best place to buy books.

And thanks to the distributors and wholesalers, Amazon had access to a huge list and a wide variety of books that weren't easy to find in the local book stores giving Amazon a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Being an online retailer meant that Amazon didn't have the constraints of the brick-and-mortar bookstores which allowed Bezos to quickly scale his business.

After Amazon became a dominant player in selling books, they gradually started selling other products - CDs, DVDs, toys, games etc. before expanding to other categories.

But one lesson we can take from Amazon's success is to spend our time, effort and focus on one thing - one habit, one goal or one dream.

Personally, I have often been frustrated with how 'stuck' I feel in many areas of my life and sometimes I have this mad urge to transform all areas of my life every bad thing and habit in my life.

For example, ever since I became depressed, I started putting on weight and over time became obese, lethargic and fatigued.

I would often look at my pot belly in frustration and shame and decide it was high time I lost weight - so I would go all in on my efforts.

I would start drinking green smoothies, have salads and soups, eliminate sugar, follow some random fad diet, exercise fiercely in the gym.

This routine would last maybe for a week or two before I started having cravings and went berserk in the other direction - eating the food I wanted and abandoning exercising because I didn't see the point - I was never going to lose weight.

Sick and tired of the repeated failures, I then decided to focus on just one thing and make that a habit.

I started with a green smoothie and my goal was to create the habit of drinking green smoothies every morning.

When I made this decision, it was interesting to notice my inner critical voice creep up with comments like,

  • 'This is completely pointless and meaningless',
  • 'What difference is a green smoothie going to make?',
  • 'You're not going to lose weight by drinking green smoothies',
  • 'Take a look at your pot belly, you need to seriously exercise if you want to get rid of all the fat, drinking stupid smoothies isn't going to cut it.'

Despite the negative voices inside, I continued drinking a green smoothie every morning and over time, I noticed a few changes.

I felt more energy and less anxious and more importantly I felt that every morning I was starting on the right note.

Finally, I was able to master the habit though there were rare instances when I couldn't have my morning smoothies especially when I traveled or ran out of spinach or frozen fruit.

However, I was able to effortlessly jump back to my old habit.

This was HUGE for me because in the past, any time I had a break in my habit, I would chide myself how weak and undisciplined I was and as a result I would struggle to get back to the habit.

That wasn't the case anymore. 

Of course there is a reason why I have been able to do this and I will reveal that in another blog post, but the strategy of just focusing on one tiny habit and mastering it has been immensely effective for me.

After I mastered one habit, I added another habit and spent time to master that before adding another to the plate.

The results have been phenomenal - I have lost weight, I feel calmer, I am able to focus more, I have improved my self-confidence, I have started reading books, I am stretching myself out of my comfort zone and taking on new challenges and trying new experiments.

Despite the current pandemic, my state of mind has been good as I have been able to focus my attention on gratitude and things I can control in life and let go of the rest.

About the author 


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