The Simple Truth Behind All Successful People
“If you chase two rabbits you will not catch either one.” – The One Thing: Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
There exists one simple word that all uber successful subscribe to: Focus.
Somehow, they’re masterfully able to focus on their priorities. And set everything else aside. To do something later. Or to delegate and remove something from their plate altogether.
It sounds simple, right?
But it’s not and it’s getting even more difficult.
But in today’s digital, fast-paced world of constant technological distractions like emails, texts, notifications, and social media… combined with the busy juggling of multiple life concerns – a career, the kids’ soccer games, groceries, cooking a healthy meal, so on and so forth.
Well something so simple can become harder than ever.
How do the successful combat the reality of the times?
First, they operate under a different philosophy.
“Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.” – The One Thing: Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
Most people believe that success means accomplishing the greatest amount of “things” in the shortest amount of time.
An old school definition of productivity.
Today’s successful people believe that accomplishing the fewest number of (important) things is the real secret.
The prerequisite is that you have to know what’s most important. And the answer can’t be everything. Or even lots of things. It can only be One Thing.
What I love about The ONE thing as first introduced to me by my friend Jay Papasan is that it looks at success as a process of doing less, to do more.
Less distractions. Less redundancy. Less efficiency.
More focus. More Intention. More progress.
Jay’s book The ONE thing is one I recommend to everyone… here’s a few takeaways that have helped me hone my focus, reduce stress, and accomplish the goals that are important to me.
Success isn’t about sacrifice… Success is getting what you want.
Jay defines success as getting what you want. And he defines productivity as giving 100% of your effort to your top priority. Which, in turn, should most quickly and easily get you closer to what you want.
First.. You have to figure out what you want.
What is your One Thing?
What is it exactly that you want? Can you answer that question?
If not. That’s your next One Thing. Stop everything else and determine your “why.”
If you can answer the question “What do I want?” then this is your one thing. Your first domino.
Everything else you do needs to be a strategic move toward that dream, goal, objective, intention… however you might define it.
When considering a new idea or project, stop! Then ask yourself the question “Is this my top priority that will help me get one quantifiable step closer to the goal?” If not, ditch it. Say “no,” or at the very least, say “not now.”
Bottom line: you can be as successful as you want to be as long as you know where you want to go. Otherwise, you’ll just zig-zag or drift around aimlessly. And that’s where the initial feeling of lack of success stems from in the first place.
According to Jay, if even just half of our time was devoted to our biggest priority, we’d start to see unbelievable results.
Learn how to move from priority to priority. Rather than try to tackle several priorities at once.
How do you get there?
Once you know what your One Thing is, the next step is actually implementing the strategies that will keep you on track. Which includes both action and non-action.
You must adopt practices for keeping your priority top of mind – for the year, the month, the week, and even the today.
Here’s an example… I keep a journal. So does Jay. To note down what the One Thing is today. Something where if nothing else got done, it would still be a productive day.
In the non-action category, you must protect yourself from the outside world, which has it’s own agenda. Jay calls his protection method his “bunker.” He shared how he protects himself from the bombardment of emails, meeting requests, and other interruptions that pull him away from accomplishing his One Thing.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to commitments of time and action. How do you commit? Here are three helpful tips…
1. Create a list.
You probably already make lists.
But I’m talking about making a smart list – not just a laundry list of everything that needs to get done in random order.
Start by focusing on small chunks.
At the beginning of the week, create a list of all of the main tasks that you’d like to get done that week. And order them in order of priority from number 1 all the way down the list.
Identify your priority, and commit to it!
Rather than thinking or worrying about numbers 2 down to the bottom, focus all of your time and effort on number 1. When numero uno is crossed off the list, take a break. Then, and only then, move on to number 2.
2. Limit distractions.
Once you’ve created your list and made the commitment to only focus on one item, create a bunker for yourself where you can truly honor that commitment to yourself.
If you have a tab with your email account open on your browser, or if your cell phone notifications are switched on, you’re limiting your chances of actually being able to focus on just one thing.
You have to intentionally protect yourself from distractions.
Our brains are biologically wired to notice distractions. As hunter-gathers, the ability to notice many things at once was a survival instinct. Whenever we were walking through the woods picking berries, our brains were wired to notice something as subtle as a rustle in the trees, which could be a life-threatening saber-tooth tiger.
Today, we don’t have to worry about the saber-tooth. But our paleo brain still notices all of the distractions. And in metaphorical terms, email can be just a dangerous to our survival as the tiger’s teeth.
You have to create space that facilitates the focus and attention to your one thing intentionally or it will never happen.
3. Keep practicing.
If this is a new practice for you, it’s not going to be effortless.
New habits take time and repetition before they become part of our new way of doing things.
So if you fall off track, don’t be discouraged – this is normal. Just try again the next day.
You’ll start to learn what process works for you. What time of day is your peak efficiency and when you work your best with the least amount of distractions to barricade against.
As you create your own personal system for this practice… you just need to keep repeating and tweaking it until it’s easy.
Once you’ve figured out your One Thing and you’ve created the space to focus on that One Thing, you just need to keep going.
Track your progress and celebrate results – and then just keep going. You’ll be amazed at how much progress you make and how much less stress goes into achieving the benchmarks you have set for yourself. Keep you One Thing top of mind and visible to help keep you on track and get ready to claim success and get what you really want in life.