What’s Your One Thing?


“What’s your one thing?”, the facilitator asked me. I just looked at him. I have far more going on than just one thing, I thought. I was embarrassed, indignant, skeptical and puzzled all at once. One thing? How the hell do you narrow it down?

There’s a great book by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan by this name. I’ll be honest. I’ve flipped through it but haven’t read it completely. What I have seen, I like. If this idea resonates with you, it’s worth checking out.

That meeting was several years ago. I’ve since come to believe that this applies in so many aspects of my life. I have a (strong) tendency to do many things at the same time. It’s hard-wired into me. And really, I’m not actually doing many things at the same time.

I’m just jumping from one thing to the next at such a fast pace that it FEELS like I’m doing them simultaneously.

When I’ve got 25 tabs, 17 documents and 3 PowerPoint presentations open at once, I may feel like I’m being super productive. The ugly truth is I’m at risk of leaving 45 things incomplete.

When I get to the end of a day like that, I hear that facilitator’s question in the corner of my mind. “What’s your one thing?” I’m pretty sure this is not what he was asking me, but I’ve started applying it in those situations.

What is one thing I can finish right now?

What is one thing I need to block time on my calendar to finish another day?

What is one thing I should hand off to my talented virtual assistants to handle?

What is one thing I simply need to take off the list?

Asking this question helps me to sloooooooooooooow doooooooowwwwwwwn. It forces me into a frame of mind where I can focus on tackling one thing until it’s resolved.

It’s not a magic pill. Those don’t exist (in case you needed to hear that). But on some days, in critical moments, it saves me from crashing and burning. It forces me to recognize my own lack of productivity and do something about it.

I apply this concept on a micro-level, you might say. I’m not sure if that was the facilitator’s intention when he asked me that question. I think he was referring to the bigger picture of my business focus. But it’s how I use it to help me.

How can it help you?

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