Gary Keller’s new book, "The One Thing," begins with this advice: "If you chase two rabbits you will not catch either one."
This simple Russian proverb is at the heart of what it takes to have a meaningful life and a highly successful real estate business.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had numerous conversations about what various industry leaders are doing to improve their businesses for 2013. Everyone seems to be narrowing their focus as opposed to expanding it.
For example, Marc Davison, co-founder of 1000 Watt, ended his Agent Reboot keynote by imploring the audience to find "the one thing that you will do and that will help you grow your business."
Janet Choynowski of Immobel.com told me she has only one goal in mind for her business: the globalization of real estate.
Fafie Moore, president of Realty Executives of Nevada and the former chairman of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, told me she had narrowed her goals for 2013 down to a single item.
Each of these industry leaders came to these conclusions separately. Keller’s "The One Thing" seems perfectly timed to capture this mindset by rescuing you from the onslaught of "could and should-do’s." The book guides you to a place where you will have the greatest probability of achieving the singular goal that will make doing "everything else easier or unnecessary."
The six lies that mislead and derail us
"The One Thing" begins by tackling the six lies that mislead and derail us. One of the biggest lies is that people can multitask. Motivational speaker and creative problem solver Steve Uzzell once said, "Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time." Research has consistently shown that we can concentrate on only one thing at a time. According to David Meyer, a nationally recognized expert on multitasking, task switching increases the time it takes you to complete a task 25 to 100 percent.
To see how costly the three "D’s" are (distraction, disturbance and disruption), Keller cites the research that shows that we are interrupted every 11 minutes on average and that we spend almost a third of the day recovering from these distractions.
Consequently, a simple way to gain back a third of your day is to focus on doing one thing at a time. Put your phone on airplane mode and check it when you have completed the task at hand. Avoid trying to do two things at once. You will do both tasks more poorly, and it will take you significantly longer as well.
Other big lies include that "everything matters equally," "will power is always on will call," that a balanced life is achievable, and that "big is bad."
The simple path to productivity
Mark Twain once said, "The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one."
Keller argues that the first step in this process is to ask a "focusing question." Research shows that asking questions improves learning and performance by as much as 150 percent. The focusing question that he recommends is: "What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"
The power of this question is that it not only helps you to identify the "big-picture questions" such as "Where am I going?" or "What target should I aim for?" but it also helps you answer the "small-focus" questions such as "What must I do right now to be on the path to getting the big picture?"
The big-picture question is about finding the right direction in life, and the small-focus question is about finding the right action to take.
The four P’s of extraordinary results
According to Keller: "Your big one thing is your purpose, and your small one thing is the priority you take action on to achieve it. Purpose is the guiding force in determining the priority that drives their actions."
Keller also believes that the more productive people are, the more purpose and priority are pushing and driving them. "Personal productivity is the building block of all business profit. The two are inseparable … this is the straightest path to extraordinary results."
The three commitments to your ‘one thing’
The first of the three commitments is mastery. Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson discovered what he called the "10,000-hour rule." It takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an elite performer. Keller suggests that in terms of how this relates to you and your work, you’ll need to average four hours per day, five days a week, for a full year to master your "one thing."
The second commitment is moving from "E" (entrepreneurial) to "P" (purposeful). The cycles for these two types of behavior are quite different. When the entrepreneurial person hits her ceiling of achievement, she experiences disappointment first, resignation second, and then she searches for greener pastures where the cycle will repeat itself.
When the purposeful person hits his ceiling of achievement, the person strengthens his focus. The person is committed to growth, and seeks new models or systems to continue that growth. It’s these new models and/or systems that allow the person to achieve breakthroughs.
The third commitment is accountability. Rather than allowing life’s events to victimize you, the purposeful person owns the situation and searches for solutions. This allows him or her to stay in action and to continue the breakthrough process.
If you’re ready to achieve extraordinary results in your business and your personal life, "The One Thing" is the one thing you must read this year.