Every day every leader must find a way through the fog and the clamor of the urgent in order to focus their attentions on what matters most. It’s the nature of the leadership beast. Nowhere does that cage fighting of competing priorities get more intense than the wrestling match going on in our heads.
Trust me, I understand! Every day it seems I wake up to a list of 17 or more new things that demand to be accomplished. However, leadership means more than getting through your task list.
As an alternative to spending your life juggling chainsaws, I offer this simple yet life-changing discipline: Identify the ONE THING! In every situation, every day, in spite of all the demands for your attention, identify the one thing that matters most right now. And do that thing.
Whether first thing in the morning or the last thing you do the night before, ask yourself, “what is the one thing that will make the biggest difference today?” If your plans for the day collapse because of some unforeseen crisis, you would still accomplish one thing that truly made a difference.
Do the same thing every time you set priorities for the week ahead. Ask yourself, what is the one thing I can do this week that will “move ball furthest down the field?”
Repeat this discipline every month as you set priorities, goals, and calendar for the month ahead. What is the most important thing for me to accomplish this month?
Before every appointment, identify the one decision that needs to be made; the one question that is most important for you to ask; the one insight you want to provide to someone or to some situation, etc.?
For every meeting you plan or will attend, ask yourself in advance, what is the one thing you want every participant to walk away with from this meeting?
For every presentation, every letter, every memo, pause before you start writing. What is the one message, insight, action point, principle, etc. that I want people to take away? Then put it in a single sentence.
The concept is so stinking simple. Execution on the one thing takes courageous discipline. I dare you to try it. Instead of fixating on how to get more done, focus on the one thing that has the greatest leverage to bring progress in this moment. Then, do that thing.
If you do this consistently I believe you will find that every day, every meeting, every communique will yield incremental progress to significant momentum. And, momentum is contagious.
The depth of your impact is directly proportionate to the narrowness of your focus. The broader your focus the more you dissipate impact. So, imagine that every conversation, every day, every week had greater impact. How good would that feel?
Enough. What’s your one thing for today? …for this week?