Jack Palance (as Curly in City Slickers) knew it. There are multiple best selling books that promote it. A jewelry entrepreneur has made sure you can wear it. Devotionals and guides for spiritual growth are built around it. What is it? That’s for you to decide. It could be lots of things. To have maximum impact, however, you have to choose. One word . . . one focus . . . one “thing.”
That might sound easy enough, but it is actually really, really hard. We live in a world with hundreds of channels, thousands of social media friends, untold experts telling you to go in every imaginable direction. We have come to expect our lives will offer an instantaneous smorgasbord of options and opportunities . . . and it often does. It’s exhausting. When we are constantly scanning the horizon, moving in this direction and then that to make sure we don’t miss anything . . . when our attention is spread a mile wide and an inch deep . . . it doesn’t take much of a gust of wind to knock us off balance. How will your staff know if they are moving in the right direction when they see you moving in three or four? After all, as Lewis Carroll noted, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
Identifying your, or your organization’s, one thing is not something that should be taken lightly. It will mean saying no to things that other people, experts even, think you should pursue. It will shape your decisions and actions in ways that may not make sense to others. I’ll let you in on a little secret . . . that’s okay! It’s your thing, not theirs. And when you settle in on your one thing, amazing things start to happen. For organizations, it can be incredibly energizing. People get excited when they know where they are headed . . . clearly, succinctly, not in a 47 page document but in a single phrase. And when your staff know where they are going, they can help you identify additional ways to get there. Rather than limiting your options, when you focus on one thing you just might be amazed at the opportunities that present themselves.
As you look toward a new year, do you (and your people!) know where your organization is headed? I’m not talking about specific projects. I mean strategically . . . culturally . . . down into the DNA of your organization. Yeah, there. Fundamentally, at your core, do you have a clear path? Do you know your focus, your one thing? If you don’t, it’s a sure bet no one else in your organization does either. Find it, and . . . well, to paraphrase Curly, “you stick to that, and the rest doesn’t mean a thing.” Happy New Year!