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Strategic Discipline Blog

A Hopeless Memorial Day 2012 – Find Your One Thing

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, May 30, 2022

Commemorative symbols of sacrifice Pair of long-stem red roses at the base of a military memorial in Wheaton, Illinois, USATen years ago today I was in the middle of spending 7 months in a hospital, hoping to survive Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Memorial Day came early that year, and I wrote a blog at home since I was given a reprieve and allowed to spend  time at home for the holiday weekend. You can read it Brand Ideals - A 400% ROI - Identify Your Competitive Advantage.

Much has happened to me in these past ten years. I miraculously survived  5 chemotherapies with having less than a 2% chance of living; despite being told by a doctor to spend the time I had left with my family instead of going through a clinical trial  (You can learn more about it through Conversations with Joan – Doug Wick Leukemia). My marriage ended, with my youngest son, attempting to take his life nine days after my ex-wife left me.

All Good

Ten years is a long time to reflect, enjoy, and live when you weren’t given a chance of surviving. Despite the obstacles mentioned above, I still believe everything set upon us is for good. It’s up to us to discover what that good is. Sometimes the good is hidden, sometimes it’s not just hidden.  Sometimes, it’s because what we are currently doing caused the challenge to occur, and we need to change to prevent it from messing up our lives. Other times, it’s the creator is urging us to raise our standards and to hit the target He/She set for us, and not be complacent or happy with our limited efforts. Whenever an obstacle bumps into us, it is up to us to discover the message and overcome the challenge by looking for the good in it.

ONE THINGcurly-one-thing

I wouldn’t be here today if I had not learned a valuable lesson from my business coaching. As a Scaling Up Coach, our most critical work is helping our customers discover their Annual and Quarterly “One Thing.” I’ve seen my customers achieve Wildly Important Goals (as they’re described in The Four Disciplines of Execution) as a result of setting their One Thing each year and quarter. I’d created One Thing goals for my business, and have applied them with my boys to help them achieve their aspirations.

Have you been in a hopeless situation? What did you do? Where did you turn to?  How did a potentially life-threatening, life-changing, or scary situation change the course of your life and how you think?

You dont rise to the level of your goals ~Atomic HabitsFor me, setting a goal was important. However, as James Clear notes in Atomic Habits, “You don’t rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” It’s important to establish activities/systems and repeatedly complete these to keep your focus on doing what you can control to achieve your goal.

With cancer, there’s no day or time frame you know you’re completely clear of danger. The Stockdale Paradox gave me hope in the face of this: “Retain faith you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. And at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

The portion of the Stockdale Paradox I vividly recalled, and which fueled my optimism was this comment Stockdale made to Jim Collins in Good to Great, “I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would get out; that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which in retrospect, I would not trade.”

It’s One Thing to face and overcome the hopelessness in your challenge. It’s quite another to win victory over it and go on to succeed as you’ve never done before.

Crystalize Values

Stockdale Paradox Optimism-Resilience-RealismCEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets That Distinguish the Best Leaders from the Rest, shares this fundamental practice of finding the One Thing, the best CEOs follow. Several of these CEO’s already have been shared in my blog including Paul O’Neil’s experience at Alcoa, One Pattern Focus, A Keystone Habit, Can Change Everything. Whether it’s a theme, Core Values, or a Purpose, the best CEOs know the value of focus.

Resilience is often mentioned as a key component for successful CEOs. Anyone who has successfully navigated a hopeless or near hopeless situation understands the value of resilience.   Faith, confidence, and determination are often the critical, additional ingredients to get through any challenge.

To create an environment where everyone is inspired to give their best, contact Positioning Systems today to schedule a free exploratory meeting.

Growth demands Strategic Discipline.

At our Metronomics Coaches Conference in San Diego, last week Metronomics author, and founder, Shannon Byrne Susko shared the most powerful ingredient to every business's success. Business leaders often focus on the hard edge (Strategy, Cash, Execution) first. For sustained success, these need to be balanced with the soft-edge systems (Culture, Cohesiveness, Human). Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch. We’ll explore this key ingredient and how Metronomics balances the next blog.

Disciplined People Thought Action Chapter06-01-1Building an enduring great organization requires disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined action, superior results, producing a distinctive impact on the world.

Discipline sustains momentum, over a long period of time, laying the foundations for lasting endurance.

,meeting_rhythms_1-13_wks-resized-600A winning habit starts with 3 Strategic DisciplinesPriorityMetrics, and Meeting Rhythms.   Forecasting, accountability, individual, and team performance improve dramatically.

Meeting Rhythms achieve a disciplined focus on performance metrics to drive growth.

Let Positioning Systems help your business achieve these outcomes on the Four most Important Decisions your business faces:












Positioning Systems helps mid-sized ($5M - $250M+) businesses Scale-UP. We align your business to focus on Your One Thing! Contact to Scale Up your business! Take our Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.

Metronomics (Hard Edge - Soft Edge)NEXT BLOG – Key Success Ingredient - A Harmonious Culture of Accountability


Topics: Acute Myeloid Luekemia, One Thing, Stockdale Paradox, Cancer Cured

Challenges of Scaling Up a Business 







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1. Priorities: Determine your #1 Priority. Achieve measurable progress in 90 days.

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3. Meetings: Establish effective meeting rhythms. (Cadence of Accountability)  Compounding the value of your priority and metrics. 

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Certified Gazelles Coach

Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
- Metrics
- Meeting Rhythms

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