Don’t Be A Donkey

Are you a polymath? Someone that wants to do a lot of things, you see yourself creating a massive empire in a lot of unrelated areas. You just want to do a lot of things or you are even doing them already. However, you noticed the results aren’t forthcoming, or importantly, you realize that the world wants you to pick one thing from all.

I used to be like that or I still am. I want to be 10 different things at a time, I want to have a successful corporate career, I want to create a successful startup, I want to be an investor and on another day I want to be an inventor as well. It’s a lot of things for one person. And you know what, anytime I remember each of those my “want to be’s”, I launch into research on them again. In the end, all those efforts amounted to nothing. Stuck is a more generous word to use for my situation and “being a donkey” would be a perfect word to use.

Let’s get something straight immediately, in this one life that you and I have, we can’t be everything that we possibly want to be. Enough of the “you can whatever you want to be”. Really that’s BS at best.

That said, we can be as many things as are important to us. We just have to stop thinking short term. I do all those my “want to be’s” because I used to think I must be everything right now or never. That’s why I’ve never got anything done until I changed my approach.

Thinking long term is the goal solution

Thinking long term affords us to see life differently. We have all agreed that we can’t possibly be everything that we want to be. However, we can be more than one thing in our lifetime.

Thinking long term means you allow yourself to be one thing per time. Be one thing for a few years, whenever you think you’ve done enough of that thing, gained mastery and accomplished enough, then take the next thing to do. Of course, the idea is that you have the time to do all those, and even if you don’t, the world will benefit more from the result of your extreme focus on one thing than from the dispersed focus you have for a lot. That’s because things that endure and change generations are built on those kinds of foundation.

And like I noted in this article, “another success” is always easier after the first success. You would have proven yourself worthy, capable and deserving of the resources that are required for the next adventure once you can show a result from previous wins. Do you remember that parable of the talent? You saw how those who made initial success were rewarded with more resources to have more success? And don’t forget the one who was into a lot of but had no success, even the little he had was collected from him.

What’s the donkey’s story?

A Buridan’s donkey is standing halfway between a pile of hay and a bucket of water. It keeps looking left and right, trying to decide between hay and water. Unable to decide, it eventually dies of hunger and thirst.

The donkey couldn’t think long term. If he could, he’d clearly realize that he could first drink the water, then go eat the hay.

“Don’t be a donkey. You can do everything you want to do. You just need foresight and patience.

If you’re thirty now and have six different directions you want to pursue, then you can do each one for ten years, and have done all of them by the time you’re ninety. It seems ridiculous to plan to age ninety when you’re thirsty, right? But it’s probably coming, so you might as well take advantage of it” said Sivers. He continued “You can fully focus on one direction at a time, without feeling conflicted or distracted, because you know you’ll get to the others.”

And while you are at that, never forget that most people overestimate what they can do in one year, and underestimate what they can do in ten years. That statement is always true. I’ve chosen to be extremely focused on one thing per time now and I’ve seen an amazing kind of result. This year, this website is my project. Let’s see what one year of extreme focus will bring me. 

Think long term.

Don’t be short-sighted.

Don’t be a donkey.