Enchiladas as life

Here’s something I thought about on the way to work today.

What is more important – a business that does lots of things pretty well, or a business that does one thing perfectly?

Some people might go for the first. I know a few myself. They’d rather grab everything they can in one fell swoop, knowing that, while there may be problems, the ordeal will at least be convenient. This is the Wal-Mart approach – cater to everyone with everything, regardless of how well it’s done. It has merit. It’s easy to get things done in one quick errand. It saves time, and gives a survey of the day’s shopping without leaving the building.

I, personally, go for the second – the boutique environment, specialized and perfected. I would rather buy my CDs from a music store, not Best Buy. I would rather buy my sports equipment from Scheel’s, not Target. These stores have the ability to offer more specialized product that a larger, more diversified store cannot.

Consider the restaurant industry.

I understand the allure of a restaurant that spans an entire horizon of cuisine. Some restaurants seem to latch onto the ideal of serving more items and giving a choice, because choice is always better.

But my favorite restaurants don’t do that. Instead of serving 25 pretty good entrées, they serve two or three. They do one thing, and they do it better than anyone else.

We have a restaurant in Downtown Sioux Falls called Mama’s Ladas. They sell one thing – enchiladas. I have gone to Mexican restaurants and had enchiladas – lots and lots of enchiladas – and none have matched up to the ones at Mama’s Ladas. They have taken one thing and perfected it.

I often think of this when I’m stretching myself too thin. I would like to be a brilliant writer, a prolific reader, a perfect future father and loving husband, a unceasingly effective home caretaker and healthy, in-shape human. I’d also like to be up to date on current pop culture, sports, video games and online writing. I’d love to be a beer connoisseur, a purveyor of fine arts and a snappy dresser.

But I only have the time, the means and the energy to perfect two or three of those things. It’s impossible to be everything to everyone and do it perfectly. So I’ve started stripping some of my wants and focusing on doing the things I do well. Instead of being known as a true renaissance man – a “jack of all trades, master of none” – I’ve decided to just be myself and serve up the dish I’m known for.

Which reminds me. I’m hungry.

This was lovingly handwritten on June 13th, 2007