What’s Your One Thing?

October 4, 2016

By Michelle Korsmo

We are busy. Every one of us can talk about being bombarded by emails, phone calls, texts, and meetings. The various and simultaneous demands distract us from our most important work, if we even take the time to think about what our most important work should be. While we all want fewer things sidetracking us, there’s an innate desire to do and achieve more. It’s a perplexing dichotomy.

In the book The One Thing, Gary Keller details how to limit the distractions and achieve more. His book opens with a Russian proverb that says “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” So true. What follows is a simple path to achieving results for what is most important to you. It resonated with me when I thought back on times when my work has been effective.

Think about times when you have excelled. You’ve probably achieved great success when you narrowed your concentration to one thing. Results were likely muddled when your focus wandered.

Defining your One Thing isn’t easy. It’s hard to let go of the things we’ve convinced ourselves that matter. This extra noise blurs our thinking and sidetracks success. Everything that must be done is not equal. The book encourages us to avoid being “busy,” and focus on being productive. Robert Koch highlights this philosophy in his book The 80/20 Principle, based on the Pareto Principle, which asserts that “a minority of causes, inputs or effort usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs or rewards.” What does this mean to you? The majority of what you want will come from the minority of what you do. So, a to-do list can become a success list if it’s prioritized.

As your trade association, there are many issues we could focus on. But to be effective, as the One Thing stresses, we must narrow our attention. To do this, ALTA’s Board of Governors and executive team develop our strategic priorities each year. This is our One Thing. By constantly returning to the strategic priorities, the entire association is focused on the key topics that will affect our members in their business and regulatory environment.

So, what’s your One Thing? We’d like to hear from you. We’ll post this column to our blog (blog@alta.org) where you can share your One Thing. Here are a few questions to help you get focused:

  • What’s the One Thing I can do to relieve my stress?
  • What’s the One Thing I can do to further my career?
  • What’s the One Thing I can do to make my company more competitive?
  • What’s the One Thing I can do to improve our customer experience?

By cutting through the clutter and concentrating on what really matters, you’ll achieve exceptional results. Strive to prioritize. The rest will fall into place. Success is built sequentially—One Thing at a time.

Michelle Korsmo is ALTA's chief exeuctive officer. She can be reached at mkorsmo@alta.org.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.