The biggest deterrent to our success

I think you already know I’m not a huge fan of the word “success.” And I don’t like it because it’s been overused and abused. Just Google the word and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

That said, everyone wants it. But have you ever wondered what keeps people from achieving it? Lack of focus and patience. Period.

Not only we want to do it all right now. And we also want the outcome for each and everything that we do right now. There’s just no time to wait. This isn’t being ambitious or even overambitious. It’s moronic! How can you be all over the place and expect to be organised?

Of course, getting to that level of understanding requires focus. Most of us don’t have it. We don’t ask enough questions, let alone the right questions that makes us think and reflect. For example, what would you response be if I asked you about the one thing you want the most? Most will either say, “success” or ramble on about their ambitions.

But is that really the question? What is that one thing that will make everything else either easier or unnecessary? It’s a thought provoking question and most of us haven’t thought deep enough to answer it. That’s why I like this question a lot. Because most people don’t have an answer for it, yet, they’re looking for a quick fix for the problem they have at it. The very same problems that they don’t even have to deal with in the first place!

You might be wondering how do you get this level of clarity in the first place. It’s pretty simple. I learned the following from Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s seminal book, The One Thing (and if you don’t have it, buy it right now!):

  1. Take out a few blank sheets of paper
  2. Brain dump your to-do list
  3. Identify the 5 most important activities for each area (for me it’s always Work, Business, Health & Wellness, Learning, and Relationships)
  4. Take those 5 activities and boil it down to the three most important.
  5. Now, from those three activities which one activity would make the biggest, baddest, and most profound impact in your life? Which would make everything else either easier or literally, “unnecessary”? ((You didn’t see this coming, did you? Well, learn to let go.)

Take your time. This exercise took me hours the first time I did it 5 years ago. Irrespective of the time you invest, that single thing for each area is your ONE thing. That is all you focus on. For example, my relationships’ list looked like this:

  1. Spend quality time with family every week
  2. Meet your friends often, at least once a month
  3. Got out on vacations/trips with family
  4. Aim for at least one trip with your friends

The ONE thing in that list was #1, spending quality time with family every week. And that is my biggest focus in the area of relationships. It doesn’t mean I don’t do or care about numbers 2, 3, and 4. I do, occasionally, when time permits. But they don’t matter much. Not that I don’t care about my friends or going out on trips with family, I do. But I don’t go out of the way to make things happen. If they do happen, great! If they don’t, great! I still have my ONE thing with me.

As I said before, the biggest deterrent to our success is the lack of focus and patience. And our choices fill that gap. You better make the ones that truly matter.

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