Take a moment to consider your various life roles. What comes to mind? Perhaps parent, employee, troop leader, spouse, basketball coach, entrepreneur, friend… Given enough time, your list of roles would probably span into the dozens.
Now consider your goals, projects, and dreams for the future. Do you want to start a business? Lose weight? Earn seven figures? Complete RAGBRAI? Fund a college scholarship? Travel?
Add to these lists the routine upkeep of life – dental appointments, grocery shopping, tax prep, and so on – and it’s little wonder many of us feel overwhelmed and stretched to the max.
As cofounder of the largest real estate company in the U.S., Gary Keller knows about roles, responsibilities, and dreams. He’s also created a solution that has caused his book, The One Thing (with Jay Papasan), to hit the business bestseller lists and serve as a model for executives everywhere.
The main premise of the book is fairly simple, and likely something we all know: You can’t do it all, all at once. So, decide what’s most important, then put the majority of your time and energy there.
We know this. But how many of us practice it?
Keller believes in thinking big: big visions, big dreams, big goals. I love the example he gives of Arthur Guinness who, upon establishing his first brewery, signed a 9,000-year lease! But right from Chapter 1, he stresses the importance of going small. “’Going small’ is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do,” he explains. “It’s recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most.”
When you know what matters most, your decisions become easier and your actions more aligned. You can decrease that “spinning your wheels” feeling and move forward with clarity and focus.
Last month, about 2 dozen clients and I attended The One Thing Fundamentals seminar in Des Moines. In a few quickly-passing hours, presenter Don Hobbs brought core concepts of the book to life: decide what matters most, clear away the excess, and invest your time and resources accordingly. When you have that clarity, you act with intention and contribute more meaningfully. After all, as Keller writes, “A life lived on purpose is the most powerful of all – and the happiest.”
Many things are important, but they can’t all be the most important. Take some time this month to decide: What’s your One Thing in your work or leadership in 2015? Then put Keller’s question to the test: What’s the One Thing you can do – this week, today, in this moment – to move more purposefully towards that powerful goal?
The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan (Bard Press, 2012)