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Intense focus took Bechtel to the top

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

When Stephen Bechtel was a boy, he loved helping his father build rail lines and highways through backwoods California. He never stopped building; he just took on bigger and bigger projects. In fact, many of the things he built are so big, they can be seen with the naked eye from outer space:
  • The Hoover Dam. In 1931, Bechtel organized a consortium of six companies to build it, the biggest civil engineering job in U.S. history up to that point.
  • The San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge.
  • The Saudi Arabian Pipeline stretching 1,068 miles across the desert.
  • The Alaska Pipeline, called “impossible” because of the mountains and rivers it needed to cross.
And among some of the other 22,000 completed Bechtel projects: the Bay Area Rapid Transit and the tunnel under the English Channel.

The point: Unlike Richard Branson, Donald Trump and today’s diversified entrepreneurs, Bechtel stuck to his core activity. Until he died, he called himself simply a “builder” and could be found poking around construction sites.

Could such intense focus be a route to preeminence in your field?

— Adapted from The Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.

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