Multi-tasking is a myth. The Pareto principle is not the most productive way to work anymore. And focusing on just two things in your life is not being focused enough. That’s the view of Gary Keller and Jay Papasan in the brilliant book I’m currently reading “The ONE Thing“.

“If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither one”.

This is a book about the ultimate focus. About how you should find your ONE Thing. And then dedicate your life to doing it well. It’s like a mashup of Purple Cow, Outliers and Good to Great on steroids. It’s about learning to say “NO” to projects and people who do not fit within your one thing, even though they are often disguised as such. Steve Jobs used to tell people he was more proud of the things that he didn’t do, than he was of what he did. It was his ruthless focus that he claims allowed him to build the world’s most valuable brand.


“Be like a postage stamp – stick to ONE thing until you get there”. Josh Billings.


My one thing is communicating. I want to try and help the best marketers in the world to be even better, and I’m trying to do that by speaking, writing and teaching. Keynotes, books, research papers, lectures and seminars… My job as an evangelist at IBM allows me a great degree of freedom to do that, in front of some exciting and diverse audiences all over the world. It’s a dream job for me, because almost every thing my job involves revolves around my one thing.


What’s your ONE thing?


That one thing that gets you out of bed in a morning? Or that one thing that people mention when they tell their friends about you?


If you’re not sure, maybe this will help to get you started –>


It’s the best professional learning project I’ve come across for years, and I can’t believe more people haven’t heard of it. Launched earlier this year, it helps you to be better at your one thing, by allowing you to learn from the best.

  • Want to be better in front of an audience? Take Kevin Spacey’s masterclass.
  • Want to learn how to write keynotes in such a compelling way that you always have peoples attention? Take Aaron Sorkin’s screenwriting masterclass.
  • Want to write more compelling content? Take James Patterson’s writing course.
  • Want to create better images? Take Annie Leibovitz’s photography course.

And the best bit? Each course is only $90.


Check out this trailer for a snapshot of Kevin Spacey’s acting course – perfect for anyone who ever finds themselves in front of an audience (theatre, conference, boardroom).

I have no agenda or affiliate links to promote, I just think this is a really incredible array of teaching assets that will help you to be better at your one thing. There’s also courses on music production, tennis, singing, cooking, song writing…


I highly recommend you take a look. I’ve noticed that it’s one of those things that everyone wants to do when they see it, but when you ask them a few weeks later they never managed to find the time. Maybe if they cut down the amount of things they were trying to do, and they focused more on their one thing they’d actually get even more done?


In a world of busy and unfocused multi-taskers with short attention spans, I think it probably takes a lot less effort than you’d think to stand out.


Better to be world class at one BIG thing than above average at a few things?


I think so.


“People always sum up your life in ONE sentence. What do you want them to say about you?” John C. Maxwell.




[UPDATE] ** On trying to carry out my ONE thing **

To help me communicate better, in late 2014 I decided to get better at my one thing by reading a new book each week. It meant that I needed to find the time to read every day. It’s now almost 2017 and so far, I’ve managed stick to it. It’s not been easy, but it’s made a huge difference, for more reasons than I can explain here.


In 2016 I decided to speak every day. Publicly. Even if it was only something small. A conference, a panel, a webinar, a training session, mentoring… It meant managing my diary better (something I still struggle with daily), but it’s helped me to find much more value in my work, and share some useful things with others that helped them to find more value in theirs.


Next up, I’m setting myself a challenge to write every day. Even if it’s just a short post. Something to help me focus even more and make sense of whatever is going on around me. Who knows if I’ll manage it. Maybe I’ll struggle to find the time. From past experience it takes around 60 days to create a habit. But because I am passionate about being the best communicator I can possibly be, setting myself the challenge of reading, writing and speaking each day seems like more of a privilege than a chore. Let’s see what happens…

Communications Designer @IBM • Climate Reality Leader • Lover of Old Business Books, Clever Technology and the NHS • Based in London, UK.

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