Several weeks ago, a good friend and I were having lunch when he asked me a compelling question, "Do you believe that time is valuable?" I answered, of course, with "yes", but my answer was followed with a another compelling, if not shocking, response. Prior, I was explaining how incredibly busy I had been the previous few weeks. I admitted, even though I was running full speed, I felt as though I was making little progress. I thought he would understand because "everyone's been there", but that was not the case. He looked me dead in the eye and said, "I don't believe you. If you believe time is valuable you would use it more efficiently and, specifically, spend it doing The One Thing that matters most." And, as I have found over the last few weeks, he was absolutely right. Through identification of, and an intense focus on my top priority, I can position myself for what it takes for excellence - one step at a time. At first glance his comment seemed hasty and short-sided, but the last couple weeks have helped me realize my initial resistance was simply a way to defend my actions and deny the reason I was failing. I believed since "everyone has been there" my lack of focus was acceptable. Yes, everyone's been there, but maybe that's why so few succeed.
As I rehashed our conversation over the coming weeks, his words continued to haunt me with real world examples I encountered daily. For instance, while at Disney World the first week of this month, I was riding the shuttle bus and noticed one of the advertisements that run along the top edge of the cabin area. The sign had a picture of Cinderella's castle at Magic Kingdom and simply stated, "It All Started With a Mouse." Regardless of how grandiose Walt's initial vision had become, it all started with a simple concept he jotted on a napkin while riding a train. When Mickey Mouse was "born", so was the One Thing Walt Disney needed to provide focus for astronomical success. Although he was financially broke, had failed on more than one attempt, and was told repeatedly his dream of being a successful cartoonist was futile, his One Thing kept him focused with the laser-like precision required for those who seek greatness. He gave himself fully to what mattered most - the manifestation of his dream to introduce the world to his creative vision.
Soon after returning, while sitting in church, our preacher said, "Failure is not giving yourself fully to what matters most." Given my natural propensity to listen and absorb moments such as these, his comment immediately caused me to not only introspect but to breakdown the quote into what he was really saying.
Failure (anything short of complete success, being average) is not giving yourself fully (something else - even one thing- has divided your attention) to what (singular, one thing - not things, the few things, the issues, etc...) matters most (not the top 2, 3 or 5 - just what matters most).
His attempt to have us embrace God more fully pushed me to look within and ask what other aspects of my life lack focus. Where am I failing simply because I am so distracted with the busyness of life, deadlines, competing priorities, and what I view as a lack of time to make it all work? Where am I failing because I haven't prioritized The One thing that matters most? Where am I failing because I am not fully giving myself to this One Thing,but rather allowing multiple priorities to compete for my time, my energy, and my focus? His message continues to resonate, as does the reality that the complexity of our lives, goals, and plans may be the very thing that is unraveling our full potential.
What is your One Thing and how do you find it? What are the Other Things and how do you control for them? What is standing in between and where you want to be?
So, what is the next step? Start here for a brief overview of how this concept relates personally...
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