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Positively Speaking: The one thing

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By Toby Moore

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of man named Toby Moore
Toby Moore

As an individual driven by ambition, I often find myself brimming with the can-do spirit, ready to conquer all that lies ahead. Yet, this enthusiasm often leads me to overcommit, to bite off more than I can chew.

With so many tasks and responsibilities flooding my plate, discerning where to focus my efforts becomes a task all on its own.

One of the overwhelming tasks I had to accomplish recently was creating more garage space! So fun.

On my quest for more garage space, I found myself rummaging through the cluttered caverns of my garage, moving dusty boxes and sorting through a lifetime’s worth of memories. That’s when I stumbled upon an old book: “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller, the co-founder of Keller-Williams Realty.

I cracked it open, and one chapter — “The Focusing Question” — leaped out at me.

Let’s take a moment to meditate on the concept.

What do the thousand-mile journey and life’s goals have in common? They both begin with a single step. However, how do we ensure our first step is in the right direction? We would want to avoid finding ourselves in the middle of nowhere, miles away from our desired destination.

Here’s where the wisdom of Keller strikes — he says, “The Focusing Question is what keeps our first step from being a misstep.”

Yes, you heard right! A question. Why should we care about a question? Isn’t it the answers that we seek? But think about it this way: the quality of your answer is only as good as the quality of your question.

As Voltaire said, “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”

Gandhi also noted, “The power to question is the basis of all human progress.”

So, what is this magic question you ask?

Well, here it is:

“What’s the ONE thing I can do that, by doing it, will make everything else easier or unnecessary?”

The genius of this question lies in its simplicity.

Consider my life: Running my dream business, managing my mother’s water filter business, working a full-time job at a leading hospital, and penning this column for you all. Phew! That’s a lot on one platter.

I should have been asking this question years ago!

How can I sift through all these duties, figure out what truly matters, and let go of tasks that don’t serve my goals?

This, my friends, is where Keller’s question shines. It guides you like a roadmap that points you toward the best possible decision at any given moment.

Now, let’s delve into the depths of this focusing question and dissect its parts to reveal its wisdom.

“What’s the ONE thing I can do…”

By singling out ONE thing, we streamline our tasks, cutting through the chaos and helping us focus on what truly matters.

“…Such by doing it…”

This is where the domino effect comes into play. It assures that doing this ONE thing will set other things in motion.

“…Everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

This realization can be groundbreaking: We often find ourselves caught up in a whirlwind of busy work, only to discover later that these tasks didn’t contribute to our goals.

The Focusing Question is a dual tool that can clarify our big-picture ambitions and the immediate steps needed to get there. Asking, “What’s the one thing I can do?” allows us to identify our overarching goal.

Once that’s clear, we can ask, “What’s the one thing I can do right now?”

This refines our focus, breaking down the grand task into manageable, immediate actions. This way, we’re consistently moving closer to our ultimate goal. We take the first step in the right direction and keep building upon it, one well-considered step at a time.

In the end, remember this: The Focusing Question is not a one-time magic spell. It’s a compass you must consult regularly to keep you on track, helping you hone in on your next priority.

Since I’ve started asking myself this question, I’ve noticed a marked increase in my focus and always know what to do next.

I challenge you to harness its power and watch how it transforms your journey to success, one step at a time!

Toby Moore is a columnist, the star of Emmy-nominated “A Separate Peace,” and the CEO of Cubestream Inc.

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