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Focus on the difference you can make, not the difference you wish you could make but can’t.

For me, this is the toughest quote to live up to on a daily basis.  But that doesn’t mean I should stop trying.

In Business:

If you have a product or service, it’s important to know your “core offering.”  At its heart, what is the root problem you are solving, or what is the root experience you’re trying to provide?

Too many businesses lose sight of their core offering, and go off on tangents that ultimately dilute their brand to the point where it has no meaning.

In their classic 1981 book, Positioning: The Battle for your Mind, Al Ries and Jack Trout describe how a brand can only occupy one slot in the customer’s mind.  Trying to be too many things to too many people — what they called “line extension” — actually has the opposite effect.  You don’t mean anything to anybody.

That’s why, when Honda wanted to enter the luxury car market, they created the Acura brand.

Honda already occupied a place in the economy car market and in the public’s mind.  A high-end buyer isn’t going to drive around in a high-priced Honda.  Better to start fresh with a new brand.  Toyota took the same tack when they rolled out the Lexus brand.

Define your core offering and periodically check to make sure you’re not straying too far from it.

In Life:

This is where it gets tough for me.  I wrote before about my struggle with perfectionism, and this quote helps me combat it.

The thing is, perfectionism also leads to one of the biggest “cognitive distortions” I mentioned earlier: all-or-nothing thinking.

If I can’t have it all, I don’t want any of it.  If I can’t help everybody, I’m not going to help anybody.

It’s a very childish way of thinking.  If I’m not careful and conscious of it, the all-or-nothing distortion is one of the first filters I reach for when I’m processing an event my mind.

This quote keeps me from reaching for that filter.  I hope it helps you, too.

So remember…

Focus on the difference you can make, not the difference you wish you could make but can’t.

— Lyndon Duke

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