Focus on “The One Thing”

Gary Keller  and Jay Papasan in their book, The One Thing, open with the Russian proverb: “If you chase two rabbits… you will not catch either one.” This simple phrase starts a magnificent journey of discovery for great leaders as they find another magical key in achieving extraordinary success and significance. It begins with a haunting and perennial question: “If everyone has the same number of hours in a day, why do some people seem to get so much more done than others?” Keller and Papasan respond with a gift of light which threads through their book: “The answer is they make getting to the heart of things the heart of their approach. They go small.”

It is about bringing deliberate and surgical focus to what is really important, a focus that becomes internalized and part of a great leadership. Its result is that over-extension is minimized, calendars become less crowded, to-do lists shortened and meetings are reduced. Time, effort and vision is concentrated on what is really important. Keller and Papasan punctuate and ground their approach using the Pareto Principle: “The 80/20 principle asserts that a minority of cause, inputs, or effort usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards.” Simply said: “The majority of what you want will come from the minority of what you do.”

They add greater excitement to the approach suggesting the use of an extreme Pareto: within the 20%, take 20% of that, and then 20% that % until you have only one thing remaining. Go small is the driving message. Clear the clutter and focus on that one thing that will change your business, your community, your personal life or you. As Keller and Papasan tell great leaders, you will be “doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects…. When you go as small as possible, you’ll be staring at one thing. And that’s the point.” Take the challenge. Find that One Thing that will change you forever! Remember always the Russian proverb: “If you chase two rabbits… you will not catch either one.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!

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One Response to Focus on “The One Thing”

  1. Frank Kovacs says:

    Mike,
    I love your article today as the Pareto Principle and its application is so critical to business. Being a technology executive one of the major ways we utilize it is in dealing with events & incidents that arise. You can imagine during any given day many incidents arise but how does a technology group respond to them to make the best use of their limited resources to address and resolve them? By using the Pareto Principle we take those events and incidents and classify them by a Pareto Chart. Then we take the category which has the highest number of events/incidents and analyze them to determine the root cause. Once that is known we identify a corrective action for the root cause implement it and this prevents those events/incidents from recurring. We systematically do this repetitively to make our may through the universe of events/incidents. This both provides us a structured process and the needed focus so that the limited resources are focused on solving the issues that are having the greatest impact on our quality of service and customer experience. At my firm we process trillions of transactions and support the largest firms in the world so you can imagine how critical this one application of the Pareto Principle is to our success!
    Thank you for sharing a critical element to have awareness of so they can all use and bring efficiency & effectiveness when fulfilling their responsibilities.
    Frank

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