Consider the following query:
What can you do that will make everything else simpler or unnecessary if you do it?
Why are you asking this question? And why are we asking this question in the first place?
Fundamentally, it's because we believe we don't have enough time. As a result, we spread our resources too thinly, doing little or nothing.
Gary Keller and Jay Papasan demonstrate in their book The One Thing that successful individuals start small.
They don't strive to accomplish everything at once; instead, they concentrate their attention and energy on the one task that will bring them the most benefit. Successful individuals do not focus on everything they are capable of. They concentrate on what they should be doing.
In the next section, we'll look at some popular misconceptions about overwork and why doing just one thing might produce amazing results.
Lesson 1: The Myth of To-Do Lists
Consider the concept of success.
The path to success is difficult and unique to each individual. If that were the case, booksellers would only need to offer one book in their personal development area. And all start-ups would be multimillion-dollar enterprises.
The same is true when it comes to taking action. Varied activities result in different outcomes and success percentages.
So, how do we make a decision? How do we make wise choices?
The writers make emphatically that doing a hundred activities for whatever reason is a poor replacement for completing even one worthwhile job.
Having a long and detailed to-do list is inconvenient and just clogs our days with irrelevant tasks. Being busy does not imply that you are successful. Instead of a to-do list, Keller and Papasan argue that we need a success list focused on achieving remarkable achievements.
What is a success list, exactly?
Let's revisit the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule, often known as Pareto's Principle, states that we obtain 80% of our output with just 20% of our input. This indicates that to achieve the greatest outcomes, we must identify and prioritize that 20%.
As a result, a success list (as recommended by the authors) is simply a supercharged version of Pareto's Principle. Take the 20% and apply Pareto once more. Repeat. Repeat until you only have 'One Thing' left on your list. The job that remains after you've whittled down the list is the one you should be working on.
However, before you become hooked on one job, there's another important fallacy to dispel: multitasking doesn't work!
Consider it this way...
Two identical "progress cars" exist, but only one "progress gas" tank is available. Is it better to fill one or both?
If we supply both, we are on our way to achieving our goals, but we will only go halfway with each. We can, however, reach our goal entirely if we just utilize one automobile.
As the authors say in the book, "You can do two things at once, but you can't focus effectively on two things at once... Every time we try to do two or more things at once, we're simply dividing up our focus and dumbing down all of the outcomes in the process."
Lesson 2: The Myth of Discipline and Willpower
The next two illusions to debunk are discipline and willpower, which we respect in successful individuals.
It's vital to remember that discipline is a verb, not a word. It's something we do rather than something we own. Discipline, to put it simply, is a healthy habit.
When we observe folks, who appear to be "disciplined," we are really seeing people who have developed some beneficial habits. This gives them the appearance of being "disciplined" when they aren't. The truth is that we may achieve success with less discipline than we believe. Doing the right thing, not everything perfectly is the key to success.
Do you recall our "progress gas"?
As it turns out, our "progress car" is dual-fuelled and operates on willpower as well. Every morning, we start with a full tank and use the gas to transport us where we need to go throughout the day. Our determination dwindles as the tank fills, and when it's empty, we're done.
When our resolve runs out, we fall back on our go-to fuel: blood, sweat, and tears.
What's the point? Willpower isn't limitless. It should be used with caution. If we want to make the most of our day, we must start doing our most essential work—the ONE Thing—as soon as possible, before our willpower is depleted.
Lesson 3: The Myth of Work-Life Balance
The writers have provided a history lesson on work-life balance.
A village blacksmith could go home after the horses' feet were shod, not at 5 p.m., as that was when his workday officially ended or as specified in his labor agreement two hundred years ago. He worked alone and completed his tasks when they were due.
The concept of work-life balance emerged only during the Industrial Revolution and the advent of big groups of people working for someone else.
People were compelled to leave their homes for extended amounts of time due to changing employment needs. Management principles evolved, and by extension, the definition of success did as well. Workers were obliged to divide their lives into 'work-related and 'non-work-related activities. Domestic activities were not done at work, and workers did not work from home.
Many of us seek the elusive work-life balance to be more successful as the demands on today's job change. The writers of this book, on the other hand, claim that the work-life balance is a fiction that does not assist success.
The goal of balancing is to achieve equivalence between two opposites.
Balance becomes average, and average equals...well, average. Magic never occurs in the center; it appears at the furthest reaches of the spectrum (whichever end).
A balanced existence is impossible to attain if we wish to prosper. If Malcolm Gladwell is believed, we must focus on One Thing and lean in its direction for up to 10,000 hours.
The issue of balance is basically a matter of prioritization. We instantly get out of balance when we act on our priority, devoting more attention to our One Thing above everything else.
Lesson 4: Finding Your One Thing
So, how can we tie everything together? What are our options for locating that One Thing?
The authors suggest that we pose the Focusing Question: What is the one thing I can do that will make everything else simpler or unnecessary if I do it?
Let's split down this concept into three parts:
- WHAT IS THE ONE THING I CAN DO... This indicates that the answer will be one of several possibilities. It encourages us to be more detailed. The final sentence, "can do," is our rallying cry.
- …SUCH THAT BY DOING IT… It implies that there is a standard to which our response must adhere. "Such that by doing it," we can be certain that our activities will result in beneficial consequences.
- ...EVERYTHING ELSE WILL BE EASIER OR UNNECESSARY? This gives us hope that good things will happen.
To make it more precise, we can simply reword the Focusing Question by including our area of attention or a time frame — such as "now now" or "this year".
For instance, "At my job, what's the ONE Thing I can do to ensure I hit my goals this week such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"
The Focusing Question, according to the writers, is the most important question we can ask ourselves. However, the difficulty with asking a Great Question is that we have to find a Great Answer after we've posed it.
There are three types of answers: Doable, Stretch, and Possibility.
- Doable: The most straightforward solution is one that is already within our grasp in terms of knowledge, abilities, and experience. We've got this.
- Stretch: A "stretch" solution is the next step up. While it is still within our grasp, it may be at the limit of our capabilities.
- Possibility: If we want to get the most out of our response, we must accept that it is located outside of our comfort zone. Beyond what is currently known and being done, there is a possible solution. A fresh response.
The writers, on the other hand, warn us that achieving our One Thing is not easy. We might easily fall into promiscuous ambitions if we don't have a "big picture" perspective.
To put it another way, once we receive what we desire, our enjoyment begins to diminish because we soon grow accustomed to it. New goals become more appealing as a result.
We benefit from having a purpose. Knowing why we're doing something motivates us to keep going when things don't go as planned. What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and keeps you going when you're exhausted? That is the purpose.
We'll know where we want to go if we live with purpose. We'll know what to do to get there if we live by priority. Prioritizing a goal is ineffective. Our objectives must be defined and prioritized.
So, let's look at how the focused question, combined with the objective and priority, results in a strategy.
This is how it works:
What is the ONE Thing I can do in the next five years to be on pace to reach my 'someday' objective, based on my aim?
The Annual View: Based on my five-year objective, what is the ONE Thing I can do this year to stay on pace to meet my five-year goal and meet my 'someday' goal?
The Monthly View: Based on my objective for this year, what is the ONE Thing I can do this month to ensure that I meet my goal for the year, that I meet my five-year goal, and that I meet my someday goal?
The Weekly View: What is the ONE Thing I can do this week, based on my goal for this month, to ensure that I meet my goal for this month, my goal for this year, my five-year goal, and my someday objective?
The Daily View: What is the ONE Thing I can do today, based on my goal for this week, so that I can accomplish my goal this week so that I can reach my goal this month, so that I can achieve my goal this year, so that I can achieve my five-year goal, so that I can achieve my someday goal?
The Immediate One Thing: So, depending on my objective today, what is the ONE Thing I can do RIGHT NOW to ensure that I meet my goal today, this week, this month, this year, my five-year goal, and my someday goal?
So, what's the one thing you need to do right now to get amazing results in your life? Better get going!