The One Thing

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I was recently presenting about designing balance in your life, and I was talking with some amazing women about how time is truly a mental construct. October has the same number of days as many other months in the year and we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Why does it feel like some people get more done than others? It’s how we think about it. 

Every 10 episodes I like to share a mentor or book I’ve learned from, and today I am discussing The One Thing, by Gary Keller. In this, he talks about the importance of focusing on one thing, in order to make the most of your time, and I hope you get something from this, as I know I have. 

Topics in this episode

  • Success is built from doing one thing at a time
  • The 6 Lies:
    • Everything matters
    • Multitasking
    • A disciplined life
    • Willpower is always on call
    • A balanced life
    • Big is bad
  • A success list
  • Applying the 80/20 rule to our lives
  • When you make it matter, you make it happen
  • Where “multitasking” originated 
  • You have to think big, in order to get big results


Hello hello hello –
Welcome back to the podcast
What is going on in your world?
I’m sure LOTS
I know you guys are all so busy
I get it
I feel it –
Especially this month
Work has been busy with meetings and travel
And I’ve been doing more things with coaching and presenting
All good
But I have a feeling October is going to fly by
Isn’t that so interesting?
I was actually just presenting this past weekend with some amazing women about Designing Balance for your life
And we were talking about how time is truly a mental construct
Like how we think about it is EVERYTHING
I just said October is going to fly by
The fact is – it has the same number of days as multiple months, and we all have the same 24 hours each day –
but how we think about it is what makes it fly by right?
I mean – think about an hour on vacation vs an hour sitting in dreadful traffic
Still one hour
One goes much faster than the other right?
Thats why doing this work and really thinking about how you think about time is important,
To be honest – thinking about how we think in general is important.
Ok – so today is episode 50
You know what that means right?

Every 10th episode I share a mentor,
or a teacher
Or a book I really enjoyed.
BTW – you know what else that means?
We are 2 episodes away from a year of doing this!
Crazy right
I can’t thank you enough for being here as I grow and continue to do the work as well
Give yourself some kudos for showing up for yourself as well
Hopefully you have been able to take a thing or two and apply it to you life
OK –
Today I want to share with you some take-aways from the book
The One Thing – by Gary Keller
I think you can imagine what might be the topic in this book –
The importance of focusing on one thing
The idea that success is built from doing one thing at a time
This is a concept I talk about a lot with my clients
We are just all so busy today right?
Emails, phone calls, texts, meetings
But doing all the “busy” doesn’t always lead to results
Now in the book he discusses what he calls six lies
1. Everything matters
2. Multitasking
3. A disciplined life
4. Willpower is alway on will-call
5. A balanced life
6. Big is bad
Let’s dive in
The first lie – Everything matters

This is something I talk about a lot with my clients
You know those days when you are running around putting out fires –
Everything seems urgent
Everything seems important
You are busy all day, but at the end you feel like nothing was really accomplished
Thats because – most likely – you did a bunch of things you could do
But you didn’t really do the things you should do in order to get the results you are looking for
Keller talks about how achievers always work from a clear sense of priority
Now listen – I used to love myself a to do list
What I want to offer you is the idea that instead of planning a to do list you plan for results
Keller calls it a success list
I’m sure you have heard of the 80/20 rule right?
If you are in sales you have especially heard of it
What if we started applying that concept to your lives?
Like what if we started paying more attention to the things that truly matter to us
The things that truly move the needle on the numbers
Let this sink in – when you make it matter you do make it happen
The four ideas Keller leaves you with on this topic is:
1. Go small – let what matters most drive your day – stop being busy and work on being productive
2. Go extreme – so he suggest once you find what matters dig a little deeper –
I love to have my clients ask why is that important
And ask again
When you keep going you get to the core of what really needs to be done
3. Say no – oh this is a big one – I can see you rolling your eyes – easy to say Michelle you don’t know my job
I might not – but I do know that line of thinking my friend
Listen – if it helps soften it for you Start with saying later – or not now – and focus on what you have to get done in this moment

4. He says don’t get trapped in the “check off” game – if everything doesn’t matter equally then it’s not a game of how much you can check off.
I used to love me a game of finish the to do list
What I encourage you to focus on instead is the idea of doing what matters
OK – second lie
Multi tasking is a lie
We really can’t do two things at once
Did you know the tern didn’t arrive until the 1960s and was meant for computers?
It was about multiple tasks alternately sharing one resource
Did you hear that important word?
Not simultaneously
So like sure you can walk and talk –
you don’t really have to focus on walking right?
It’s just unconscious
It’s not like you are telling yourself pick one foot up, put one foot down, pick next foot up..
See where I”m going
If you are trying to complete to important tasks that require focus you can not do them at the same time
Your brain has to switch
For example – if I’ve tried to turn in a forecast and talk to a teammate at the same time – well
It’s not happening – I can’t give both my undivided attention
Heck – I have to turn down the radio if I’m driving in an area I’m not familiar with!
You feel me? Lol
So maybe it’s not so much we don’t have enough time to do everything
Maybe it’s more that we don’t really have to do everything with the time we have..

Maybe what we should say is there are some things you can do at once – but you can’t do multiple things at once

Just something to noodle on,
The next lie he has listed is the idea of a disciplined self
Keller says you do not have to be disciplined to be successful
You might have a little head tilt on this because I often talk about planning and deciding
But the point I love about this concept
Is he says most people think they need more discipline than they actually do
What they need to is the right thing –
Not everything
And when you have enough discipline to get started you just have to keep that long enough
to make it a habit
So it’s not so much that you are disciplined as you are in a new routine
Next up –
Willpower is always on will call
I don’t think I realized this before I started this work but we only have a limited amount of willpower each day
Think about it – Monday morning you feel so charged up and you are going to eat well this week
Or not drink too much
But then life happens
Work gets crazy
Kids get sick
And now its the end of the day and you are like – screw it
I need a glass of wine
So what is it for you?

Like what drains your willpower?
Trying to impress others maybe..
Or revisiting –
anything revisiting will drain you willpower
Maybe doing something you don’t enjoy – right – you have that feeling of dread?
So its not like you can just call on willpower at any given time
So in line with the One Thing approach – do that one thing –
The most important thing
At the start of the day
When you still feel strong in the willpower department
That makes sense right
Knowing nothing has gone wrong – we only have a certain amount of willpower so we don’t have to beat ourselves up at the end of any day
Ok – next on his list
A balanced life is a lie
Now I know I talk about designing your balance
But I also agree with this idea
I think when people say they want a work life balance they either
A. Don’t event take time to detail what exactly that means
B – when they think it they have this idealistic idea of balance being this magical thing
When I talk about designing balance for you
I mean like lets see where we can find the sweet spot of you being able to enjoy life
And not be crazed with stress and overwhelm
Where can you feel like you have accomplished your goals for the day
And be able to be present with family members when you are home
This doesn’t mean its is always a 50/50 split between work and life
Keller discusses this as a criss cross in balancing in order to live your fullest life

And think about what work life balance was like back years and years ago
You had to work – like hard work – hunt, gather, harvest in order to have life
Keller suggest we counter balance more than balance
When you set priorities it means other things will not get done
And that’s ok
When you want to achieve extraordinary results, you choose what matters most and go for it
But here’s the key –
You choose what matters most at work – and you do that
Then you go home and choose what matters most there – and be present with it
Sometimes we say things like – work consumes me – or
I don’t have have a life
Here’s the thing – in those cases you are always the victim
Instead – decide what matters most and focus on that
Have your extremes at each end – like what is the most important
Do those things
And then be ok with what might not make the priority list
That’s how you design balance that works for you my friend
I actually love this – it’s exactly what I work on with my clients
Now – the last thing –
The idea that big is bad is a lie
I think sometimes this is something we are really afraid of
Like amazing success
We don’t want to seem like we are too much
Think about when people say things like – set realistic goals
Why set realistic goals
And what is realistic

Who determines that ?
Why not set crazy big goals?
You have to think big in order to have big results
In order to grown and evolve you have to think big
And then you have to take big action
Think about working out
The heavier you go the stronger you get
But we want to play small a lot of times in life
Especially my perfectionist lovelies
We don’t want to fail so it’s easier to keep realistic goals
But as you achieve bigger goals you grow
You start thinking more things could be possible
You start trying more things
Ask yourself good questions – how can you get to the stretch goal?
And be careful because often times your brain will say something along the lines
I don’t know or
I’ve never been able to do it
Don’t beleive this
When you think big you come up with amazing new ideas
The difference between a growth mindset and a fixed one is everything –
Oh – that might be my next book
Carol Dweck was the author of that – it was really good
So stop and think today –
Where are you playing small?
Where are you not dreaming big?
I love the four reminders he uses at the end of the chapter of his book –

1. Think big – place your goal higher so you can get to the original goal
2. Dont’ order from the menu – Imagine outcomes you don’t even know of yet
3. Act bold – You need bold action to back big bold thoughts
4. And done fear failure

This one is a big one!
Failing is learning and learning is how you get to extraordinary results
Listen – I’m channeling my spirit animal robin Peloton
Don’t play small to make others feel better
You are not here for mediocrity
You woke up today – might as well be a badass
Now think about what it is for you
What is the one thing you need today to get extraordinary results?
Now go do it
I would love to hear how it goes.
Ok – that’s what I have for you today –
Thank you again for being here
Remember – I do this work one on one with clients in order to help them get the results they are looking for in life
If you are ready head to to download a new 3 step guide to designing balance for you and learn how to connect with me for a call.
For now – let’s circle back next week
make it a great day – take are

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