Ambition Creep

In the software world they talk about too many features making it into a product thereby diluting its core functionality. This makes the software experience confusing and less valuable to its users. The term for this is feature creep. The same can be said of ambition–there are so many things to do with our lives and we can’t possibly do all of them well. We may try though, and at a certain point we can lose focus and stray from both what we’re good at and what we really enjoy. Then, looking back, we might wonder whether it was worth it to start down so many paths rather than traveling far on one of them. I feel like I’m constantly subjected to this ambition creep.

Last year I redid this blog and started technotheory, hired two new people, refocused the business on Office design as much as Office training. And personally I joined two new book clubs and resolved to hold some sort of party once per month. Here I am in May of 2007 with all these new things to maintain that I still believe in, and I want to do so much more. I want to start a social group in DC that’s passionate about technology more in the way people are in the Bay Area. Next month I start a series of business-oriented classes with the Board of Trade. I want to hire more people. Oh, and I want to take guitar lessons, dance lessons, and an extended vacation. By the way, there’s that new Murakami book, The Four Hour Work Week, the new CS3 suite to play with, and…

This all sounds well and good except that I’m not really succeeding. I have given little time and energy to the two blogs. I haven’t found balance between managing employees and doing my own work. And neither our website nor our collateral explain the new mission of the company. And, most importantly, my revenue is not in line with the type of growth I’d like to see.

I’ve taken on so many things and, while my clients and friends haven’t been sacrificed, I’m not sure where I want to be in any of these areas. All I know is that I need to take these priorities and do one thing at a time, not all of them at once. The whole jack of all trades master of none may make for great conversation, but it doesn’t translate to money or satisfaction. And the more often you have to switch tasks, the longer it takes to finish any of them.

Every once in a while I read a post about starting a side business or following your dream. Those types of articles are inspiring but they really only apply to those who haven’t yet suffered from too much ambition creep. I think I need to do less. And, more importantly, I need to want to do less. Or at least until I’ve gotten more out of what I’m doing now.

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