Stand for Something (master a discipline)

Themba Jay stories

One thing I eventually learned from my attempts to understand and position myself as a communications professional was simple yet profound. You need to be known for something.

Your name needs to be synonymous with something that identifies you.

Steve Jobs. Usain Bolt. Bill Gates. Tiger Woods. Serena Williams. Tom Ford.

It is likely you immediately thought of well-designed electronic consumer products when you saw Steve’s name. Likely thought about world-class athleticism with Usain. Software with Bill. And your mind visualised a world champion Golfer when you read, Tiger.

Serena Williams can venture into selling perfumes and clothes next but her name stands for excellence on the Tennis court. Because she’s mastered her discipline, she can then have the leverage to do other things.

And of course, you can do many things at once. Especially in the age of people juggling multiple careers. Even then, my thinking still hangs on the belief of focusing on a single pursuit, if not very few, and then mastering what you do.

When you master a discipline, word spreads, you become the go-to person in your field and abundant opportunities open up to you.

Consider Google. I believe they make the mistake of wanting to do too much all at the same time. They have had to kill certain applications and projects because of this. Also, intent plays a big role in your journey. After seeing other companies do well in the space, Google thrust itself into social networking through Google Plus, which failed to take off as expected. Never be caught wanting to replicate other people’s success.

“Winning has never been about making the most.” Apple CEO, Tim Cook, follows through on that stance with how many things they do and how well they do them. Can they get into social media? With the resources they have, of course it is possible. Would it be the wisest move, though? Would they be the best in that endeavour?

As an individual or as a business, you need to draw a line in the sand. Train yourself to say no to things, inasmuch as they may be exciting now, they might distract you.

Jason Fried and David Hansson live by these words in running their software business, Basecamp: “When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.”

If there’s anything to convey from this conversation with you, it’s simply this…

You gain a clearer perspective when you stand firmly for something.

And for me, I eventually made the Themba Jay name to be synonymous with eloquent Writing and Speaking. Anything else is an add-on.