The One Thing: "The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results"

In my journey the past two years interviewing top performers, the most repeating characteristic by them all in one way or another is FOCUS!

So how do you do develop this skill?  Gary Keller give us tremendous insights.

Page 9: “Where I’d had huge success, I narrowed my concentration to one thing, and where my success varied, my focus had too.  If everyone has the same number of ours in a day, why do some people seem to get so much more done that other?  How do they do more, achieve more, earn more, have more?  They go small!”

Note:  I have found with all our clients that they get overwhelmed by the vastness of their responsibilities, the limited resources they have available and all the distractions that come their way.  Our firm always coaches, “Go small”. At Crouch & Associates we call it compartmentalization.

Page 33-35: “Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business. Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority.”

Note: Special events….every nonprofit has them.  Many nonprofits depend on them to fund the majority of their revenue. A review of the ROI on the activity often reveals hundreds of hours spent by volunteers and staff with a small net return.  Often a major gift officer is sucked into these activities, and the results are not the productive use of the officer’s time and energy.

P. 35:  “To-do lists can easily lead you astray. A to-do list is simply the things you think you need to do. To-do lists inherently lack the intent of success.  Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list – a list is purposefully created around extraordinary results.”

Note:  This has become a game changer for me. Success lists are short.  It is an organized directive.  It is a matter of deciding each day of all the things you need to do, what is important most.

P.44 - 46:  “Multitasking is a lie.  It is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time. Researchers estimate that workers are interrupted every 11 minutes and then spend almost a third of their day recovering from distractions.”

Note: Development offices are usually a circus of distracting multitasking demands.  Open office environments, coffee stations, drama and all kinds of noise.  This noise is why our firm has been studying the Blue Angel pilots. Their ability to stay focused on one thing…a 43-minute show flying at 650 mph three feet off the wing of another plane.  All top performers have learned to do this! Including those in the fundraising profession.

P 73-76: “Purpose, meaning, significance – these are what make a successful life. The act of living a full life by giving time to what matters is a balancing act. In your effort to attend to all things, everything gets shortchanged, and nothing gets its due.”

Note: At C & A we believe that understanding a person’s own “WHY” is a critical piece to addressing balance. When your “purpose” aligns with the “WHY” of the organization you are raising funds for, then your energy, your productivity and self-esteem skyrocket.  Contact us, and we will show you how to discover your personal “WHY.”

P. 86-87:   “None of us knows our limits.  No one knows their ultimate ceiling. When you allow yourself to accept that big is about who you can become, you look at it differently.  Thinking big is essential to extraordinary results.  Success requires action, and action requires thought.  But here’s the catch – The only actions that become springboards to succeeding big are those informed by big thinking, to begin with.”

Note:  I have found so many development officers that do not think big.  The focus on what they don’t have.  They hold as excuses the resources of other institutions. They feel as if they will always be limited. As a young development officer, I was in New York City on the weekend. I went to the Marble Collegiate Church on Sunday to hear Dr. Norman Vincent Peele preach. He spoke about our limitless thinking and challenged every one of us as we left the church that day to pause on the steps and visualize what we could become. For the first time, I envisioned that I might become a college president.  That thought changed my actions and “big” thinking became a part of my life! So, I challenge each of you to double your goals!

P. 100: “The key to success isn’t in all the things we do but in the handful of things we do well. I learned that success comes down to this: being appropriate in the moments of your life. I learned that the ONE Thing is the surprising simple truth behind extraordinary results.”

Note:   Keller is back to telling us to go small.  He says we must focus on the one thing we can do today to have the biggest, lasting result on reaching our goals.  I believe that if a development officer has a portfolio on 125 prospects, half who are qualified, then the real focus of time should be spent on the ten that can have an impact on my organization over the next twelve months. 

P. 106:  “ Anyone who dreams of an uncommon life eventually discovers there is no choice but to seek an uncommon approach to living it. This Focusing Question is that uncommon approach. In a world of no instructions, it becomes the simple formula for finding exceptional answers that lead to extraordinary results: WHAT IS THE ONE THING I CAN DO SUCH THAT BY DOING IT EVERYTHING WILL BE EASIER OR UNNECESSARY?”

Note:  Discovering that one thing requires understanding your purpose and focusing your attention on the one activity each day that can move you closer to the productivity needed to exceed your goals. The Blue Angels call it their canopy space. That place they go to totally concentrate on their one thing: Precision.  I conclude each day creating my success list and determining the one thing I must get done the next day to reach my highest level of success.  Magic happens when I do! As Keller says, “Extraordinary results are rarely happenstance.”

P. 123: “So what if you ask the question, ‘What can I do to double sales (gifts) in the next six months.’ Answers come in three categories: doable, stretch, and possibility. High Achievers understand the first two routes but reject them. Unwilling to settle for the ordinary when extraordinary is possible is the very best answer for top performers.”

Note:  The best fundraiser I ever had lived in a world of the possibility.  He took every goal he was ever given and doubled it.  He then developed a strategy and a success list to make it happen. He worked hard, but often fewer hours than others, because he was focused on the ONE THING that day that could get him closer to the high achievement level he required of himself.

P.175-180: “ Achieving extraordinary results requires three commitments. First, you must adopt a mindset of someone seeking mastery.  Mastery is the commitment to becoming your best. Second, you must continually seek the very best ways of doing things. And last, you must be willing to be held accountable to doing everything you can to achieve your ONE Thing.”

Note:  At our firm, we coach the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  Knowledge is the mastery of the skills necessary to accomplish the task given you. Wisdom is the ability to find new ways and the courage to hold oneself accountable.  I have a mastermind group of three very successful, smart executives who meet with me twice a year. Their knowledge keeps me on my toes. They challenge my decisions. They force me to find new pathways. They hold me accountable for my actions. I have given them permission to make me think big and require me to act small.  Every person who hopes to achieve extraordinary results needs a similar mastermind group.  Contact us, and we will help you form such a group.

P. 211:  Gary Keller quotes T.S. Elliot: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

Note: Amen!