Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The ONE Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Productivity

What's Your One Thing?

This post is, in part, a book review and a personal story about why I write.  Take it for what it is, and disregard the rest as you see fit.

There's a book by Gary Keller called The One Thing.

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

 It discusses productivity, management tips and self-improvement.

It preposes we tend to distract ourselves with too many things, too many tasks to do, too many demands on our time and energy.  Wasting too much of our time not only distracts us from the task at hand, but it also acts to form limitations to what we can ultimately achieve.

In simple terms, it breaks down that we should only focus on the ONE thing that we actually care about, and what we can excel. Or as the author states, "extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus."

There are some current myths discussed in the book and exposed as lies.

Multi-tasking? Not a real thing.

Willpower on call?  Not true, it's a finite resource, like any other energy/endurance capacity you may have.

Who is Gary Keller?  He built Keller/Williams Realty into the largest Realty firm in the world.  That's right, #1 position for a Real Estate company in the world.


My One Thing: How I Got Started


When I was a kid, I would spend hours in my tiny bedroom reading.

That is if I wasn't busy running around the street playing games and trying to get the neighborhood kids to compete with me.

Now, keep in mind I wasn't a superb athlete, so I made sure I'd work on my technique longer and more precise than any other kid I played. Beat me, I would work my ass off to make sure I could outlast you next time.

It was just the right mix of hyper-competitiveness, obsessiveness, and spite.

As a teen, I'd close my door to shut out the world and assay through pages of sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, mystery, the "classics" from Thoreau, Whitman, Thomas, Poe.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered existential philosophy from thinkers such as Nietzsche and Kierkegaard.  For "culture," I read the Bible in multiple translations, the Thesaurus, Encyclopedia Brittanica and poured through the dictionary religiously.

Needless to say, that type of shit can really mess you up, especially in your impressionable early teen years.

Surrounded by my imagination, I'd enhance the mood by playing music on a tiny two-speaker boombox.

I'd play cassettes with songs from the Cure, the Smiths, Depeche Mode, rewind them until the tape wore down and drift off into a dreamworld of starships, foreign lands, and superheroes.

While I'd lose myself in the songs, I'd read as if my life depended on it.

And, I felt it did.

See, I didn't have a great home life.



My parents were divorced, my father didn't want anything to do with me and my 3 siblings while my mother remarried to a man who was overworked, drank too much and seemed overwhelmed by taking care of a pack of ungrateful kids.

So I read countless books, stories, and magazines to escape from what I felt in an unjust world.

But mainly I read as much as I did to learn the craft of storytelling and how to get a point across. I discovered that there is something universal about being human.

Part of the uniquely human experience is the desire to share our thoughts and ideas with others.

We're social creatures.

It's part of why we developed language and in turn, societies, cities, states and governments.

It's why we live with other human beings, even when they're screaming at you, or staring at you from out of the corner of their eye, not speaking with you at all.

Long before I had my "reckoning" about life and the human experience, my first victims of all this study and information were my younger brothers and sister.

They're all much brighter than me.

Like I'm a bag of wet cement compared to the genius of my siblings.

Probably in part of my competitiveness, but possibly from spite, I had to prove my greatness to them.

I was the oldest brother, meaning I had to be better.

So, I'd write them stories. This was in the beginning before they were old enough to read, and I barely old enough to write.

My early manuscripts would comprise of two, three or maybe four sentences with some poorly drawn pictures, but the point was to help them learn what I had.

I'm not sure they enjoyed the stories as much as I did in creating them.  Most of the time they were sci-fi epics that included spaceships flying around in a sky full of asterisk-drawn stars, shooting lasers and rockets at each other, while the story usually was text that complimented the pictures.

The point is, from the early beginnings, I knew there was something that I needed to share with others.  I coached for a long time to teach what I had already learned.  I wanted to share ways to think, to act, and to learn.

That's my ONE thing.  To communicate what I learn along this path that I'm walking, about life, about writing.

Well I guess that's two things.  That just goes to show you there's always more to learn.

If you're interested in reading about how you can become laser focused, pick up a copy of The One Thing from Amazon by clicking this link:  The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

(It IS an affiliate link, meaning if you purchase it I'll get a small share of the sale from Amazon)