Where Do You Put Your Sweat Equity?

Not long ago, I wrote about the importance of finding leverage on your path to wealth--leverage through scale, leverage through attention, leverage through investments, even leverage through elite institutions.

I want to clarify something about leverage, however.   

Consider this.  What if you tried to be Katy Perry, Warren Buffet, Tom Brady, and a real estate tycoon all at once.  What would happen?  Almost certainly you would flop at every single one of these endeavors.  Why?  Because you can't be all things at the same time.  

Focus Your Efforts Or Perish

My example is absurd and may seem obvious, but many of us fail to narrow our career choices and get realistic about what is possible.  We try to move in too many directions at once, and we don't develop expertise or make progress in any area. 

To help avoid the fate of "jack of all trades, master of none," I suggest you reframe how you develop leverage with the following question:

Where Do I Want To Put My Sweat Equity?

Recognize that there are many different areas of life where you could find leverage.  One option is real estate, another is entrepreneurship, yet another is through an elite employer or institution

Then, choose.  Be realistic, and choose where your efforts will pay off the most.

Are you ever going to be a genius investor?  If so, that's what you do.  You are an investor.  Become amazing at this.  However, chances are that this will not be the case.  After all, most professional investors underperform the market.  If you aren't the next hedge fund guru, don't waste time deceiving yourself.  Invest in index funds, and move on to where you can get better leverage through your efforts. 

Similarly, if you plan to find leverage through real estate, that's the domain where you specialize.  Find your niche within that topic, and become an expert.

Are you a coder with ambitions of starting your own company?  Great.  Go deep.  Get good at that.  But don't have any illusions that you can be a coder, and a real estate guru, and a genius stock picker, and XX, and XX, and XX.  Choose.  Choose based on what you are naturally good at, what your background suits you for, what has leverage, and what is realistic.

Know What Is A Hobby And What Is Your Profession

Another way to think about this is to know what is a hobby and what is your profession.  I suggest you take five minutes for the following exercise.

  • List out all of the goals and ambitions you are currently pursuing or would like to pursue.

  • Next, rank order them in importance.

  • Decide which two or three items are truly the most important.
  • Finally, either let go of the rest or label them hobbies. 

Strangely enough, you may find you make more progress and spend more time on your hobbies once you let them be just that--hobbies.  You relax and enjoy them without a lot of pressure. 

No Need To Be Monomaniacal (thought that's ok)

To be clear, I'm not saying you should only pursue one professional interest in life.  Some of the most interesting and creative work people do is through new combinations in two or more fields.  I'm not saying be monomaniacal.  But I am saying don't have seven top priorities in your career. 

Focus Your Sweat Equity And Make Serious Progress

With focus, you can develop deep expertise.  This happens when you devote your efforts intensely on one or two topics for years

So what about you?  Where does it make the most sense for you to put your sweat equity?  Are you trying to be an expert in so many domains that you aren't making progress? 

If so, write out your goals, rank order them, relegate some to "hobby" status, and get clear about your focus.  You will make a lot more progress on your priorities because your efforts are concentrated. 

Bonus points if your sweat equity is going to something scalable…..