02 Jul 2015 Happy Independence Day
A couple of weeks ago our bank sent a book to me called “The One Thing (The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results)” by Gary Keller. Turns out our bank, the Bank of America, did ONE Thing to improve our partnership – they gave me a book, a simple, yet profound book that teaches the reader to ask powerful questions in the context of their lives and businesses that can be life-changing.
The question is this: “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” To illustrate the power of this question Keller uses a fascinating twist on dominoes. In 1983, Lorne Whitehead in an article in the American Journal of Physics wrote that a single domino can in fact bring down another domino 50% larger than the itself. Extrapolating geometrically from the first regulation-sized domino, the 23rd domino brings down a domino as tall as the Eiffel Tower, the 31st, a domino 3,000 feet taller than Mt. Everest, and the 57th – are you ready for this – a domino standing as tall as the distance from earth to the moon.
With this way of thinking, your One Thing, your big goal, becomes reachable if you prioritize and focus all of your energy toward it and line up your dominoes optimally. But life doesn’t line up neatly like dominoes. Keller says that highly successful people know this fact and line up their priorities, their dominoes fresh, each new day. They are not slaves to ‘to-do’ lists, they understand that multi-tasking is a “lie,” a sap of productivity, and they know Pareto’s Principle, which says that ‘a minority of effort leads to a majority of results.’
What’s the One Thing I can do . . . focuses not on intention like could, would, or should, but CAN, which is all about action.
. . . such that by doing it . . . directs attention toward purpose.
. . . Everything else will be easier or unnecessary? As Archimedes said, ‘give me a lever I’ll move the world.’ When you do this one thing everything else you could do to accomplish your goal is now either more doable or unnecessary.
Keller adds a diagram, featured below, as an iceberg. He says all business people want profit and productivity, but few understand that purpose and priority are foundational to their creation. The four concepts exist in a virtuous circle.
As Dean Bokhari points out “when you have a strong Purpose, you can become clear about your Priority. When you’re clear about those two, you’ll become a more Productive person. And when you become a Productive person, you produce value in the [community and world.]”
Keller then drills more deeply into the time-honored practice of goal setting; starting with strategy and then laying out the tactical steps necessary to bring that strategy to reality. “By thinking through the filter of Goal Setting to the Now, you set a future goal and then methodically drill down to what you should be doing right now. It’s a little like a Russian matryoshka doll in that your ONE Thing ‘right now’ is nested inside your ONE Thing TODAY, which is nested inside your ONE Thing this WEEK, which is nested inside your ONE Thing this MONTH . . . It’s how a small thing can actually build up to a big one . . . You’re lining up your dominoes “says Keller.
Be Accountable. “Accountable people achieve results others can only dream of. When life happens, you can either be the author of your life or the victim of it. Those are your only two choices – accountable or unaccountable.” – Keller
Near the end of his book, Keller adds a poignant reminder as he lists five regrets from Bonnie Ware’s book titled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”
“I wish I’d let myself be happier”
“I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends”
“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”
“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
This weekend we celebrate our country’s 239th birthday. In 1776 the inhabitants of a new country called the United States of America, set out to accomplish ONE Thing – total independence from England. A fellow by the name of George Washington would line up his dominoes which would inevitably topple the world’s most powerful navy and army.
Just as our brave forefathers declared and won their independence from King George’s tyranny, why not declare your independence from the tyranny of the things that hold you back from your best in life? Why not write your own Declaration of Independence with its values, priorities, and goals to get you to your ONE Thing? We’d love to help you draft it.