You don’t need to be organised to be the best at what you do

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Inspiration / Motivation / Productivity

I’m one of the least organised people you’ll meet.

I have very little structure in my day. I don’t have a morning routine, beyond brushing my teeth and checking emails.

I don’t use a weekly plan, and I barely touch a calendar.

Some days I get up early, and others I work into the small hours.

No two days are ever the same.

I’m not saying you should emulate me. I’m not saying that being disorganised and chaotic is your ticket to success.

I’m not saying I’m the best at what I do (though I plan to be).

I know I still have a lot of room for improvement. I’m not “professional” by any stretch, but I have made some solid accomplishments — by my standards — at 33.

I believe that you can be the best in the world at what you do, without being ‘organised.’

Rather than trying to be organised, focus on these two things:

1. Going ‘vertical’ into one specialism at a time.

2. What makes you come alive.

These are the only two things that matter if you want to find success in what you do.

They feed into each other.

Ideally, you will dedicate at least 80% of your working hours to one specialism.

You can move from one to the other, and some specialisms outlive others. You will get the most out of a narrow field, however, by staying with it and going as far as you can.

Examples of specialisms:

  • Oil painting
  • Photography
  • Fiction-writing
  • 3D animation
  • Fitness expertise
  • Pottery
  • Music composition

They can go even further than that — into sub-specialisms.

You can combine more than one into a hybrid, too.

Going vertical on something means you choose depth over breadth.

Most people choose horizontal. The path least trodden is that of depth.

Vertical means you explore a narrow aspect of something. You go deeper into a skill or an idea.

When you go deep, amazing things happen. Your skills sharpen, your insight distills and multiplies. You find yourself drawn to your work.

You emerge into the bright light of the ‘other side.’ Few know of this place.

This is how you become the best in the world at something.

This is the essence clients look for, and that which your tribe sniffs out from afar.

Secondly, focusing on what brings you to life might seem obvious, but many people spend the bulk of their lives doing things that don’t connect with them; don’t fascinate them; don’t engage them.

Doing what your belly is guiding you to do inevitably means you are doing what you want, but it is also an indication of what the world needs (we are social beings, and we can sense when what we do has meaning for the world).

Figuring this out requires trying things. What intrigued you in your youth or your past is an indicator of what you are suited to.

There are many sources of intrigue, and so ultimately you must make a choice.

And then you must commit to staying with that thing. If it is right for you, you shouldn’t have a problem deviating.

We need to be careful here because it’s not all about doing what you love. There will be monotonous aspects, like admin and marketing, and doing the work when you don’t feel like doing it.

But you need to see these things as necessary supporting legs to the flame that flickers in the centre. Without these ancillaries, you cannot continue to do what brings you to life.

If you expect it all to be sunshine and roses, you will never go far enough.

Doing what makes you come alive is not about doing what’s comfortable, nor what is easy.

It’s about doing what continually stretches you. This is the vocation that you need to do — one you can spend a lifetime developing mastery in, always pushing against boundaries, making new ground.

This is what will give you that hunger to do the work when you don’t feel like it.

I don’t always feel like writing for others, but I have made that commitment to focus narrowly on a specific area that fascinates me.

If I’m feeling off, getting back on track is a small affair, because I am just an inch away from picking up the thread that hooks me.

When your gut drives you, you might no longer see the need to organise. You just do, with more intensity. The chaos defines you because you are at ease with it.

Focus narrowly on what matters to you, give it the consistent attention it thrives on, and everything else will fall into place.

When you’re moving, and you’re alive…

…You’re a ‘success’ anyway.

The Author

Alex is a project starter, sometimes finisher, writer and illustrator. He started Red Lemon Club in 2009 with the aim of helping talented creative people leave their mark.

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