Celebrating 10 Years of The One Thing with Jay Papasan

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When a big milestone comes around in our community, we like to acknowledge and celebrate it. And this month marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of The ONE Thing. With just over 3 million copies sold in 42 language translations, this book has had a lasting impact on our Pivot: Shift Ahead community as well as elsewhere throughout the world. To mark this achievement, we talked with co-author Jay Papasan.
When Jay and Gary Keller began to write this book a decade ago, their goal was to write a timeless – not timely – book. What The ONE Thing teaches at its core is how to look for and find clarity in our lives. After all, it’s unlikely we can accomplish truly extraordinary things if we don’t know where we are going and why we want to get there. Getting clear on what matters most to us sets the foundation for the advice of The ONE Thing. Read on to learn about some of the many takeaways that still resonate with Jay.
1. Of the Six Lies, A Balanced Life is Highly Important to Jay
Jay shared that the authors wanted to write the six lies in order of significance. In other words, the lies are all interrelated and build on one another. Once you address one lie, you can better understand how the next lie can impact you. However of the lies, the one that Jay finds the most important in his own life is the fifth: A Balanced Life.
Most likely, if you’re looking to achieve great things, you’ll find yourself out of balance on occasion. Whether your focus is professional and puts your personal life on the back burner or you’re focusing on something in your personal life to the detriment of work, not everything in your life can receive an equal amount of attention at all times.
When Jay feels out of balance for a long time, things in his world feel very chaotic. As a result, he’s developed rituals to help himself counterbalance. For instance, he batches his email several times a day so that he’s not always in his inbox and instead, can be present with the people who are with him in the moment.
2. The Gift of Goal Setting to the Now is Simplification
Goal Setting to the Now is a concept explored in the book, where you set a future goal and then chunk it into smaller goals and time increments to determine how to achieve it. However, knowing what you want to accomplish in the future and working backward from that end goal to pinpoint what you have to do right now can be a really hard question to tackle. Deciding what you need to achieve over the next five years, one year, months, weeks, and days ahead may even feel overwhelming at first. However, this framework is one of the key lessons of the book. And the gift of that process is learning the ability to simplify your behaviors and your actions.
People can’t live in complexity for long in any aspect of their lives. In order to be successful at moving the ball forward, you need to know not only the direction you want to go, but also what needs to be done right now to help you progress toward your larger goals. In our businesses, for instance, Jay suggests looking at our responsibilities. If we can’t explain what we’re doing in one page, we’re making our jobs too complicated. Goal Setting to the Now is the ultimate way to determine which smaller activities can add up to big achievements.
3. The Book May Be Called The ONE Thing , but It’s About Doing One Thing at a Time
It may surprise you, but The ONE Thing isn’t a business book. In fact, according to Jay, you can apply the concepts of the book to every area of your life. Through looking at the 7 Circles graphic (see page 114 of the book), you can figure out what your ONE Thing is in the areas of your life that matter most to you. This also means that we don’t apply the principles of The ONE Thing in a vacuum. In other words, just because your business matters to you doesn’t mean that your key relationships don’t also deserve your attention. Rate yourself in each of the different areas from one to ten, where ten means you’re really knocking it out of the park. Be honest with yourself and reflect on your scores. Then, focus on the areas that aren’t rated as high as you’d like. You may find that you give yourself a 7 in an area and would like to improve it to a 9 or see yourself as a 1 in another area that needs quite a bit of work. Once you determine what deserves your attention you can drill down to figure out the activities that will make a difference in your life by asking The Focusing Question: What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
Jay was a fount of wisdom and behind-the-scenes insight on this interview and there are plenty more great book references where these came from! Check out the rest of our talk and see if his favorite takeaways from the book are similar to your own. And if you haven’t read The ONE Thing> yet- it’s never too late to pick up a copy and apply the principles to your own life to start on the journey to achieving extraordinary things.
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