You Can’t Have It All

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LeBron James is awful at a lot of things. He’s not much good to share a spongecake with. He won’t join you for an all nighter playing Halo. He’s tough to have a quiet walk in the park with. But do you know what he’s incredible at?

Basketball. 

I just listened to Tim Ferriss’ interview with LeBron and his trainer Mike Mancias. They discussed the things LeBron does and does not do in order to be great at basketball. He doesn’t eat any processed foods. He always gets 8-10 hours of sleep. He’s earned fame in the public and influence where it counts. 

Often, we’re goaded into believing we can have it all. Corporate advertising tactics cause us to subtly believe we can buy our way to a great body, a successful life, mental clarity, and more. So, if we can buy our way to these things, then technically all we have to do is earn enough money and we’ll be set!

It’s quite obvious that this is not true. 

Sacrifices are imperative to achieving success in every aspect of life. For a great body, we have to sacrifice time and calories. For a successful life, we have to sacrifice unnecessary spending and demotivating environments. For mental clarity, we have to sacrifice a lot of external and internal voices. 

I recently stopped eating bagels every morning because they were giving me heartburn and making me feel bloated. Believe it or not, this was actually a big sacrifice for me! Not only did I have to give up one of my favorite foods, but I also had to change my morning routine, find a good substitute, and let go of my 16 year old persona (in which I ate as many hot carbs as possible).

Unless we sacrifice the right things, we’re destined to be average at everything and achieve nothing. 

When I first started freelancing, I sacrificed a lot of the suburban comforts I grew up with. Buying new shoes every few months just didn’t make sense in the early days. Eating out often wasn’t an option anymore. Stopping work at 5pm was out the window. Because I made these sacrifices, I was able to live in Venice Beach, make network connections, and keep my business afloat. 

The idea that you can have it all can poison your marketing too. 

We have to decide who we’re going to serve. We have to create customer-specific marketing material based on psychographic and demographic data. In the internet age, a company that seeks to serve everyone will quickly find itself serving no one. It’s the organizations that choose a small, underserved group of people and say “we’re here for you” that end up earning a following and changing the culture. 

Decide where you want to be and who you want to serve. 

Then make the sacrifices to get there.

Joshua Reese