Be All That You Can Be

For those of you around in the 1980s, you may recall the US Army’s ad campaign “Be All That You Can Be.” It had a very catchy ad jingle. So catchy, apparently, that 30 years later, I got that jingle into my head this past weekend.

And it is still there.

At the same time, I had occasion to re-listen to parts of the audiobook version of Michael Gerber’s excellent book “E-Myth Revisited.” I had set it on sort of a ‘random’ chapter, but what ended-up playing dovetailed nicely with the jingle that was already stuck in my head.

Gerber talks about the fact that business owners often get stuck “doing” the technical work of their business (the ‘thing’ your business does) without setting up the business to allow the owner to do the strategic entrepreneurial or managerial work that is required for businesses to grow.

What struck me as I ‘mashed-up’ these two things in my brain, is that too often we all try to be “all’ that we can be – meaning “everything,” and we get overwhelmed. This is more than just a personal issue, it is also a brand issue, as many times, we try to cram too much “all” into a brand that really wants to be focused.

What’s the solution to this? Prioritization and strategy. If you can’t do everything simultaneously, then focus on what’s most important, and build from there. Perhaps it’s cashflow, or building mindshare – maybe it is the actual “doing” work of the business.

Every business is different here, but what is key is to pick where to focus your energies, and “be all that you can be” in that focused, strategically-important area, and then move to the next. Don’t spread yourself too thin, and don’t bury your head either.

I’ll be focusing my energies on getting rid of that jingle – and can’t wait to move on to the next thing.


An interesting sidenote – the Army’s BATYCB campaign was (at the time) their most expensive ad campaign ever, and studies done afterward indicated that the campaign actually damaged morale by setting up a disconnect between the Army’s promises and its ability to deliver. Good lesson.

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