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The Power of Specialization

Take a moment and think of the top athletes of all-time in a few different sports. If you’re a sports fan, this may come easy to you. But, even if you’re not, you should recognize some names. In basketball, you may mention Michael Jordan or Lebron James. In baseball, you may mention Babe Ruth. You might mention Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods, and Muhammed Ali in swimming, golf, and boxing. But, for the most part, it doesn’t matter which athlete you mention; they will have on thing in common—all of them have excelled at only one sport.

Muhammed Ali, so far as we know, never won a medal in swimming. Tiger Woods never scored a goal in hockey. Michael Jordan gave baseball a shot, but it didn’t work out too well. No, for the greatest athletes, they become great by focusing on one thing and ignoring the rest.
A long time family friend spent his entire career as a quarterback in the NFL. I once asked him how he got so good at football that he was able to achieve the level of excellence that most boys can only dream. What he told me has stuck with me to this day. When he was in high school, he told me that he had wanted to play baseball. He was a decent baseball player, but he was an even better quarterback during football season. At one point, his football coach gave him some advice: stop trying to play both sports and focus on the one he was best at. The rest is history. Would he have made it to the NFL if he had stuck with baseball, too? Probably not.

As leaders in the mortgage industry, we can’t afford to spread ourselves too thinly. We can’t be good at everything, but we can be great at something. Let’s find that one thing and focus on it exclusively. Specialization is the road to excellence.