Change One Thing

In the comedy City Slickers, the hapless hero Mitch(Billy Crystal) learns an important life lesson from the grizzled old cowboy Curly (played by the incomparable Jack Palance):

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? [pause] This. [holds up one finger]

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.

Mitch: But what is the “one thing?”

Curly: [smiles] That’s what you have to find out.

Great scene.

Fast forward to another gem from Peter Bregman, whose recent blog entry about change says:

"Everyone has one thing. Typically, people overwhelm themselves with tasks in their eagerness to make a change successfully. But that's a mistake. Instead, they should take the time up front to figure out the one and only thing that will have the highest impact and then focus 100% of their effort on that one thing."

Great point.

But like Mitch from City Slickers, how do you find out the one thing to focus on?

Bregman offers an interesting example from a retail organization that had identified the ten "Gold" behaviors of excellent salespeople. After awhile, when sales didn't improve, Bregman helped the store to realize that there was one behavior that all the salespeople were avoiding. When they shifted focus from the nine and put laser focus only on that one, sales improved.

The lesson for figuring out Your One Thing that, if you focused on it, would lead to a breakthrough?

Step back from everything you are doing. Ask yourself, What is the thing I am avoiding? Isolate it and capture it as clearly as you can. Then, do it.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, October 17, 2009

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