Size Does Matter, But Not In The Way You Think

The desire for success and achievement has long been a driving force for many throughout the years. The problem is most people still subscribe to the conventional wisdom that in order to have more, you must do more. That the price to be paid for success is working longer and harder than everyone else. This ends up creating the belief that achieving success is complicated and time consuming, thus most people end up settling, or worse yet not even trying. The authors of my book recommendation for this month argue that the path to achieving extraordinary results is actually in doing less, not more.

In their book The One Thing, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan argue that the way to get the most out of your work and your life is to go as small as possible. They define “going small” as ignoring all the things you could do and doing only what you should do. It’s recognizing not all things matter equally and that the focus should be on finding those things that matter most. That in order for your achievements to add up (personally, professionally, and so on), it actually takes subtraction, not addition. Extraordinary results happen when you start doing fewer things that generate more effect.

We are a society that has become obsessed with our calendars and to-do lists. We label the day a success based on the number of items and tasks we’re able to check off before our head hits the pillow at night. By taking this approach, we are prioritizing efficiency over effectiveness. Whereas efficiency is about getting many things done, effectiveness is about getting the right things done. High achievers are laser focused on what matters most, whereas those who fail to achieve allow everything to matter equally.

Instead of a to-do list, Keller and Papasan believe you need a success list. To-do lists tend to be long whereas success lists are short. One pulls you in all directions; the other aims you in a specific direction. One is a disorganized directory and the other is an organized directive. If your to-do list contains everything, then it’s probably taking you everywhere but where you really want to go.

At the heart of “going small” and doing those things that matter most is what Keller and Papasan call the Focusing Question: “What’s the ONE THING I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” This question drills down to the heart of what matters most and forces you toward something specific. It requires you to find the first domino in the string and go to work to tip it over.

In my opinion, the fundamental point Keller and Papasan are trying to make in their book can be boiled down to this one paragraph, “Extraordinary results are rarely happenstance. They come from the choices we make and the actions we take. The Focusing Question always aims you at the absolute best of both by forcing you to do what is essential to success – make a decision. But not just any decision – it drives you to make the best decision. It ignores what is doable and drills down to what is necessary, to what matters.”

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read this book, I highly recommend you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. I’ve read it a couple times and continue to find helpful tips and insights.

Lastly, if you’re ready to move forward and learn how to be more effective in your business, as well as your personal life, contact me today. All it takes is one discussion to tip over that first domino in pursuit of extraordinary results.


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