I write about technology, media and societies.


Eighty percent of one’s earnings come from twenty percent of ones’ effort. Your work; recognize those twenty percent and do more of it.

That’s what a lesson in focus looks like. The fact is, you can not do everything and the second fact is, doing everything means you’re doing nothing.

When I was in grad school, I used to operate a laser machine and on that machine, there is a notice which says “danger, this is a 75w death machine.”

As a laser master, we were trained that; “if there’s a fire incidence, run first before thinking of wanting to call 911”. Why? Because the laser machine is very dangerous to the point where it could cut someone into two or do very significant damage to oneself.

So, the question remains, why is a machine that is just 75w called a death machine?

The bulb in your room is likely 100w, and if that bulb is not burning you, then why is a laser machine of just 75w more powerful than the light bulb of 100w?

Before I answer the question above, let’s talk about the mechanism of operation of a bulb and a laser.

Illustration of focus

A laser is a huge light that is forced to go through a single point, or hole (check the above image). Meaning, you’re forcing a lot of lights to escape through just a point. That means, there is a huge force trying so hard to escape.

But in a lightbulb, light is spread across everywhere, making the energy low powered. Meaning there are zero huge lights passing through just a point. So the force is not that much.

So, the differences between a 75w laser and a 100w bulb is point and force.

In the former, the point is one and the force is huge. While in the later, the force is less and the point is huge.

What makes a laser machine powerful is not because it is a machine but because of its focus. It’s an unwavering one.

But the bulb is constantly whining around, and hardly makes anything standard.

If you look at them both, a laser has impact, and it is very powerful but not bright while a bulb is less powerful, has less impact and is very bright.

The problem of focus is the problem of options. When we have lots of options, it dissuades us into thinking we can be whatever we want to be, while that’s true, the reality remains we can’t be everything.

When you spread your energy around, you’ll be bright but have less energy to focus. But at a time you choose to focus, you have more energy.

If you have lots of options and you try to chase them all, you’ll always feel less of yourself.

You’ll feel like a loser because you know within yourself that you’re spreading your energy and this has created drains and as we know, our feelings are always right.

Hence, we feel inadequate when trying to be everything for everyone.

There is something called the paradox of choice (check the video below). When there is a lot of choices, we tend to be distracted and exhaust more brainpower into thinking about what to choose. This usually affects our decisions because now we can’t make the right one that would benefit us.

When there’s a lot of choices, we tend to miss out often, and no matter what we choose, we would never be satisfied.

When you list all of those things you can do, it makes you feel like a bulb, you seem bright and many people would even hail you.

But the question remains, are you really bright?

Creative work is more about what you choose not to do than about what you do. If you don’t give yourself permission to stop struggling, you’ll struggle for the rest of your life.

Let’s go back to 80/20 again.

Twenty percent of what you do will bring eighty percent of the money you make. Or twenty percent of what you do will bring eighty percent of the result you desired.

Focus on those twenty percent and watch your life change for the better. I know it’s hard to do because I also struggle with it sometimes.

Hustling is good, but most of the time, it makes one feel like a loser since you will have it today, and might not tomorrow.

A niche, a market, a skill.

That’s all you need, and you’ll get there.

Thanks to Happiness Zirra and Winnie Ishaku for reading this in draft form and helping to edit it.

Comments (3):

  • Educating piece. I hope this helps alot of us focus our energy in the right direction. I have been wondering what my 20% is really 😊

    • Keep wondering, it always come with time. The most important thing to know is that; you can’t improve what you don’t measure. You may want to start tracking your investments, both in time, efforts and money.

  • Ibrahim Abdullahi

    I’ve not read this but I’ve been waiting on it since. Can’t believe I missed the publication… Now lemme read before shooting someone.

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