One Size Fits…None.

Who doesn’t like shortcuts? It doesn’t matter if we’re trying to shave a few minutes off our daily commutes, or if we’re playing the Lotto to strike it rich with a dollar scratch-off ticket, who wouldn’t like to find a better, easier way to get what we want?

That’s part of the appeal of finding one-size-fits-all solutions. If we can find one (insert the name of a product or service) that does it all, our lives will be simpler!

Great idea. But terribly flawed. Because one size does NOT fit all. In fact, one size usually fits none.

Years ago I bought a Baja beach shirt in Mexico advertised as one-size-fits-all. And if every human stood 4’8″ tall and had the circumference of a Sequoia, the advertising spoke the truth.

Remember the infomercial selling kitchen knives a while back that claimed their product can “Cut through a steal pipe, chop tree branches in half like an axe, hack chucks off cinder blocks…and still remain sharp enough to cut a tomato into razor-thin slices. Utter B.S.

I found one of those knives at a Goodwill store. I bought it and tried to slice a tomato. It made tomato juice. Then I used it to saw through a piece of PVC (i.e., plastic) pipe. The friction caused a few plastic shavings to form around the point where the blade rubbed the pipe. But the blisters on my hand gave out before I could create a groove on the pipe. Then I took it outside and did a chopping swing at a low handing tree branch. The branch flinched a little before springing up and down and hitting me in the eye. Finally, I returned to the tomato. Guess what? The knife did the same crappy job on the tomato than it did before I used it for home repair and landscaping. So technically, the knife performed the same way on each task, but I hardly think that was the point the infomercial was trying to make.

Someone suggested I check out a popular author/speaker’s website to see if I liked the way it was put together. I got too distracted by the claims on the site that this man was a subject-matter expert on topics ranging from national security to leadership development, from animal husbandry to nursing babies in zero gravity.

Here’s my point: rather than trying to be all things to all people or claiming to be all that in all things, be excellent in doing one thing better than anyone else.

Master one thing. Know as much about that one thing as you can learn. At the same time, stay broad enough to be conversant in a wide variety of topics. A mathematician who also knows a little something about poetry, music and public speaking will find more success than one who knows numbers and little else. The poet who can string together words while balancing a checkbook will find more fulfillment than one whose primary claim to fame is having memorized a thesaurus.

And for goodness sake, be smart enough to let your customers, your associates, your colleagues and your friends sell you more than you try to sell yourself.

Gotta run. President Obama is waiting on the line to get my take on how to resolve the budget standoff. And while I’d like to help, I have Bono in my living room begging me to help him write another Top 40 hit. Then I got to take that call from Cano thanking me for helping him figure out his swing…


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