We are usually instructed to specialise. We are told to go narrow and specific, niching down to find riches. Spreading ourselves too thinly is seen as a negative in favour of targeted energy in one direction. However, again and again, people who reach the highest level in one area are able to do it in others. Is it, therefore, possible to be world-class in multiple areas, and are we wrong about persistent specificity?
Jodie Cook is an entrepreneur, author and athlete attempting to be world-class in three areas of life. After exiting her social media agency last year she’s starting a new business and dreaming big with her plans. She has written twenty books including Ten Year Career, which publishes with Hachette in July. She also competes for Great Britain in the sport of powerlifting and can deadlift over triple her bodyweight of 57kg. She’s testing out what she’s capable of and helping others do the same.
I interviewed Jodie to find out how it’s possible to be world-class in multiple areas of sport and business. Here are her five steps.
Audit your schedule
“To fit a lot in, you have to keep a lot out,” explained Jodie. “So auditing your schedule is the first step.” She advises you remove anything that doesn’t contribute to your mission, including commuting, unnecessary obligations and mindless entertainment. “Your days and weeks should be intentional. You’re attempting to do what most people can’t, so you have to plan your time like most people won’t.”
Assess every hour of your schedule and make sure it’s utilized well. Reduce the friction between waking up and getting to work. Take out the activities or commitments that don’t serve achievement or recovery. Scrolling social media, watching television and hanging out passing the time likely won’t result in the world-class results you seek.
As well as auditing your schedule for what you currently do, guard against new additions. “Every day, so many people will want pieces of you,” said Jodie. “They’ll want your time and attention and the energy has to come from somewhere.” To combat the requests, make saying no easy. Jodie advises you “have email templates saved, that are polite but firm. Make a policy not to respond to every request that crosses your path. Set your boundaries and stick to them.”
Turning people down and declining invitations is often easier said than done. Remembering your goals is paramount, to ensure you stay on track no matter how heavily you are leaned upon. Get comfy with being ruthless. “Be unashamedly driven, not apologetically average.” Say no to anything that doesn’t contribute to the mission to make the mission happen.
“Now that your schedule is guarded against all interruptions and distractions, cultivate relentless focus on what you’re here to do.” Jodie instructs that you ensure your actions are completely aligned with your intentions and purpose. Be wherever your feet are. “When you’re focused on one thing, be fully present. Don’t multitask or switch between activities. Aim to reach flow state with whatever you’re doing. Juggling is for clowns.”
Set clear goals with defined success metrics and meditate on achieving them. If you feel yourself going off track, remind yourself of your why. “Keep it front and centre of your mind. Set it as your desktop background, pin it to your wall, set reminders on your phone that make sure you’re not faltering.” The everyday can grind down even the most determined of professionals, so don’t leave your motivation to chance.
Share the journey
“Share your problems and challenges with only your inner circle,” said Jodie, “but document the journey for your audience.” Documenting means you build a network of people who want to support you and see you do well. “Resonate with people, share what you learned, inspire them with how committed you are.” You might find your superfan network builds while you work.
At the same time, “don’t feel like you have to share everything,” advises Jodie. “If you’re working through specific obstacles, know your plan before you let everyone in.” Look inward before you go out for advice and guidance and keep a clear line of separation to maintain your sanity. “You know yourself better than anyone, so work on the self-awareness that means you can thrive under any circumstances, however sudden they may be.”
Rest and recover
Being world-class in multiple areas warrants a recovery schedule. “It’s a false economy to be go, go, go all the time.” Plan your recovery and rest and don’t miss it out. “Your mind and body need intense relaxation. They need to be able to rest, regroup and build.” Exhaustion isn’t the goal. “You can’t drive on an empty tank and you can’t perform at your best across multiple areas if you’re overtrained and overworked.”
We are all different and need different amounts of rest, so find the right amount for you. “Some people can happily work and train every day as long as they switch off each evening and get a good sleep. Others need whole days of nothing or extended recovery periods.” Experiment until you find your balance then repeat in cycles so you’re always at your best.
Becoming world-class in multiple areas is possible with a clear plan that you stick to. What could you be capable of if you put your mind to it and didn’t give up? Sign up for Jodie’s free training at jodiecook.com/start.