The ONE Thing

by Jessica Delaney, Principal, Engagement + Communications

I recently was listening to a podcast with guest Jay Papasan who co-wrote a book with Gary Keller, entitled The One Thing.

On the podcast, Jay shares a few key insights from the book whose central premise is a focussed question: what is the one thing you could do today that leverages everything? What is the one thing that makes everything better / easier / or unnecessary? He talked about the need to have a narrow focus and to identify that not all things on your to-do list are of equal importance. The reality is that most of us tackle the easy things first and then leave the most important thing (usually the hardest) on the list. The main take-away is an old Chinese proverb: if you chase two rabbits, you will catch none.

So, from an engagement perspective, I took this podcast and insights to confirm something I have known to be true for a very long time. Sometimes the hardest thing you need to do in an engagement is the most important thing. If you do that thing, and do it exceptionally well, it will make all the other “things” easier or better. For example, if you know there is a very mobilized group working against your project, you might be tempted to engage everyone else when the reality is that you need to engage those who are most actively working against you. You might not want to engage your biggest critic, but in doing so, you may in fact be doing the most important thing.

So, here are three questions to ask yourself when looking to figure out your “engagement most important thing”.

  1. What individual, group or organization could un-do this project? Engage them.
  2. What individual, group or organization could advocate for this project? Engage them.
  3. What’s the most important question I need answered to make this project the best it can be? Who can help me answer it? Engage them.

Remember – the best engagement is the one that is laser like in its’ focus, as opposed to a shot gun approach.