In the early 1990s, a grumpy old cowboy named Curly, played by Jack Palance, revealed
a great truth in a popular movie, City Slickers. “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to
that,” he told a city slicker named Mitch, played by Billy Crystal, offering a formula for
success in a few words.
One-shot prioritizing – or “going small” with a focus on a singular purpose or achievement
– enables some people to get more done in a day. Desks groaning with to-do lists and
calendars packed with dozens of projects divide your concentration into tiny pieces, while
excelling at a few things is the way to succeed. Adding more projects without cutting
others dooms your results, your family relationships, friendships, diet, sleep patterns
and health. Chopped up, your life gets small, but developing a singular focus on one
necessary target puts many larger forces into motion. When you prioritize your primary
task, everything else falls into line, like dominoes.
This functions in science, as Lorne Whitehead noted in the American Journal of Physics in
1983. He found that one domino can topple another that is 50% larger. Starting with a twoinch
domino, “geometric progression” means the 23rd domino would be taller than the
Eiffel Tower and the 57th would nearly reach the moon. So shoot for the moon by creating
a domino effect to get there. Success builds on itself; it is “sequential, not simultaneous.”
Very successful brands reached the top by focusing on “ONE Thing.” Consider Coors
beer, KFC chicken, Starbucks coffee and Google search. Your challenge is to find your
one focal point. Until you find it, seeking it will be your one thing.
Passion and skill often align with a person’s one thing. Singular focus leads to spending
a large amount of time developing a skill that improves your results and adds to your
enjoyment. Bill Gates developed his high school passion for computers into a singular
skill for programming. He built that knowledge into success as co-founder of Microsoft.