The Thursday Thesis - 11/10/2018
Every so often I like to find somewhere remote and quiet to just sit and think; to plan the next few months – what to do, when to do it, and make sure I was doing it for the right reasons.
I ask myself one of life’s great questions - which I got from Gary Keller’s book “The One Thing” (link at the bottom of this post), here it is...
What's the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be made easier or unnecessary?
My normal response is to scratch my head, adjust my headphones and make my pen start to move on the paper, brain-dumping all of my current and potential projects onto the page so that I could see them and objectively assess them.
There are easy and fast projects, challenging and slow projects, and overwhelming projects which could take the rest of my life to complete.
But now I have the buggers on paper I can begin to eliminate the low priority/low return projects, along with the ones that did not fit with my Vision of how I want the rest of my life to pan-out.
Last time I did this I found my One Thing – and it’s the same One Thing that I had twelve years ago.
Yep, 12 years on and I still haven’t finished version 1.0 of my project. I have three bulging lever arch files crammed with my notes, but nothing even close to a draft. What an arse!
So I started brain-dumping my key ideas onto my yellow pad, line after line of Deep Magenta ink filling 8 pages of bullet points and sketches. It’s a mess, but the mess is marking the places where the good stuff will go, and the few bits of good stuff are already done.
I am certain that speed is the key in these scenarios: you have to write fast enough to outrun your fear.
Over the next few weeks and months I’ll re-write and fettle those notes, expand those bullets and pay somebody else to draw the pictures so that another human being can make sense of them. I will complete my “Shitty First Draft”, my SFD 01.
Then the fun really starts!
By the time I’ve been through SFD 1 a few times, edited it, stripped out the clunky parts and sharpened things up in SFD 2, SFD 3, and probably SFD 4, it will be tidy, ready for formatting and the day when I finally get out of my own way and hit the big scary button which says “PUBLISH”.
Once that’s done I’ll ask that great question again: “What's the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be made easier or unnecessary?” and burn through another yellow notepad.
Keller reckons that we must focus on, and do, only our high-percentage stuff – the things which matter most.
It’s commonplace for people to spend too long perfecting things which are low-percentage activities and pay the price in lost opportunities.
There’s not enough space on the internet for me to ‘fess-up to all of the low-percentage things I’ve wasted years on; for now I’ll just mention that I played nothing but “Smoke on the Water” for months when I began to learn to play guitar. That’s low, low, low percentage stuff, but I was just a kid then, and I honestly, sincerely, truly - cub’s honour - NEVER play that riff now.
As a guitar teacher, I always start with the highest-percentage stuff first. If the student gets that in place first, a great deal of what follows will be a smooth progression towards their goals: without it, every week will be tougher than it needs to be, every new skill will be slower and harder to acquire, remaining less secure for longer.
In every field of endeavour there are high-percentage and low-percentage activities. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, employed in a job, working for yourself, or not working at all – figure out which activity is your most important, the one which – once completed – will make everything else easier or unnecessary.
Deep down, you probably already know what it is already, don’t you?
It’s the elephant in the room for most people; I know it was for me.
When things matter most, we tend to skirt around them, because they’re too big and scary to tackle, despite us knowing that they are vitally important - crucial to our hopes, dreams and goals.
Are you nodding, right now?
If so, you might want to grab a pen and paper and start jotting down all the “stuff” you would like to get around to one day.
Which one of them scares you most?
That’s probably the thing that matters most and which could make the most difference.
I don’t claim to know what your high-percentage stuff is, but you know what it is, don’t you?
Here's the link to Gary Keller's book:
© Neil Cowmeadow 2018
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