There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

Audre Lorde


I admit. I am anti “1 thing.” To me we have an inordinate relentless focus on doing one thing (well). I am not embracing multi-tasking (of which it is actually serial tasking), but, I am suggesting focusing on one thing make give you some sense of success, but it is really only incrementalism or a false sense of success in the larger scheme of things. Why do I believe this? there is no thing as a single-issue struggle.

Too often we attempt to tackle one thing and the world diverts our actions by reminding us everything is connected with everything. The consequence of ‘what we want/attempt’ crashing into ‘what the world is really like’ usually leads to less than desirable outcomes. I imagine I am suggesting, in general, we think too small. But maybe I am suggesting we misinterpret ‘traction.’ Pretty much all advice centered on ‘start small, do one thing’ is really talking about fear of NOT gaining some traction. The underlying belief is that to create belief (traction) there has to be some success. My issue with this is that it ignores the larger objective of success in that the small action does not really scale to the grander desired success. Why? Well. As everyone is seemingly getting bludgeoned today with “complexity”, “VUCA” and dynamic systems, they have to be gaining some sort of sense that not many things are literally linear, that far too many things are interconnected for one thing to have the desired impact and that it will take some/many things done simultaneously (and constantly evolving) to herd a dynamic system to a positive outcome. With that ‘some sort of sense’ one comes to the reality that “a solution” is a myth and an ecosystem of solutions is reality. And I purposefully use ecosystem because it isn’t doing a number of things on a grid and tracking them left to right. It more about isolating the most critical things (plural) and doing them – simultaneously in a coherent fashion. We do not live single issue lives, business is never just a single ‘thing’ and there is no such thing as a single-issue struggle. The road to progress is found in multiples and often many.

I believe it is in the New Testament in which you can find this (Matthew 7:13-14): “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Business is different than religion (albeit many large institutions steal religious thinking to make people idolize money and capitalism), but the narrow road has a nasty habit of leading to destruction and the broad road offers the collective action necessary to use all the levers necessary to optimize a dynamic system.

Which leads me to end with “and”.

If single-issues don’t exist, we need to learn to live in a world of ‘ands.’ Success is rarely found in incrementalism and necessary change, or agility, is never found in one thing. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that 99% of people are quite capable of doing more than one thing and 99.9% of any viable business is always doing more than one thing. So do this, do that, maybe do another thing, and another, and connect some ‘ands’ together and meet the struggle where it exists – in the land of no single-issues.


Written by Bruce