Stick to the Knitting

Day 354 Week 52 Q4  Tuesday, December 20, 2022

If you have ever been an entrepreneur you have probably heard or read this. But in case you have not, it simply means sticking to the business you are supposed not to be in and not squandering resources like time and money, and energy on other things. At first hearing, this may sound anathema to a creative outlier so a deeper dive is called for. Say you are a CEO of a business, a small one-person one, or even a very large one employing thousands of people. There is some business you are in, not a thousand of them. Even if you have an enormous set of skills or at the very least an enormous collection of interests, it does not mean you should try to exercise as many of them as you can imagine or feel like in the present moment. The current example in the news this week is Elon Musk the wealthiest man in the world at the moment who is running at least, in theory, a few large enterprises decided, seemingly on a lark to purchase a small by his standards business. When you are the largest stockholder in at least one company that was nearing a trillion dollars in market cap valuation, spending 44 billion is only five percent? So if you are rich enough to play in the rather small pond of individuals running enterprises in the hundreds of billions of dollars, it could seem reasonable to dabble in a pond with the other small enterprise’s worth only tens of billions of dollars.

But here is why it somewhat dramatically apparently does not make sense. Elon was not sticking to the knitting, and his main company lost half of its value. It is not just misdirecting fiscal resources, which also tends to also consume significant amounts of time, it is the larger resource, the one of your personal energy and concentration, that is what causes the tragedy. There are many names, in many ultras, for this energy. Chi or Qi in Chinese, Prana in Sanskrit, Pneuma in Greek, and Ruach in Hebrew are a few of the ancient terms for vital energy. Misapplication or squandering of vital energy can ruin your whole day, company or life. When you are not sticking to the knitting, you are wasting this important vital energy.

This complicated tricky business belies the seemingly simple act of knitting, which is also not so simple. When you lose focus or concentration and drop a stitch, the knitting needs to be torn out and redone. But I hear you protesting I can not just stay doing the same things I am already doing, I need to expand and express and experiment. Yes, yes, and yes, you do. But if you are a high jumper and decide to become a sumo wrestler this season, it is probably not going to work very well. 

On the other hand, when Bob Dylon showed up at a folk festival with an electric guitar for the first time, he was roundly booed and rejected by half of his fans. What can I say? Many people do not like change. But although an electric guitar is a very different instrument from an acoustic guitar, they are still both guitars, even if the audience does not realize that. On the other hand, a social media company and a car company are not so close, as Elon, along with the rest of the world, is finding out.

Sometimes subtle differences can derail you in terms of where you put your vital energy. So be as conscious as you can about how you expend your vital energy, it is a relatively common form of self-sabotage

Stick to the Knitting.