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Extraordinary Results - Purpose, Priority, and Productivity

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Thu, Jan 14, 2016

The_One_Thing_-_Extraordinary_Results-1In The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller, Jay Papasan, Gary Keller notes, “the more productive people are, the more purpose and priority are pushing and driving them.”

In February of 2012 I was hospitalized for Acute Myeloid Leukemia. When you realize your time left is short it, seriously impacts how you live.  Confined for over 7 months to a hospital room in mostly solitary confinement, I recognized that while I had a purpose, I wasn’t living it.  That experience, and my miraculous recovery, made me reexamine living my life on purpose.  It also gave a whole new meaning to the impact purpose can have on our lives and most importantly a business.  The discipline of a One Thing Priority resulted in increased productivity, and ultimately my cancer being cured.

This blog has never been short on the subject of having a company and personal purpose.  Explore these blogs for our commitment to PURPOSE:

Without a Purpose Any Problem is Too Big

Johnson & Johnson’s Core Purpose Repercussion

Level Five Ambition – Driven by Core Purpose

Core Purpose Importance –Southwest Airlines Example

The Ideal Growth Tree – Five Must Do’s To Live Your Core Purpose

Keller is no stranger to the power of purpose. He feels there is a natural rhythm to our lives that becomes a simple formula for implementing the ONE Thing and achieving extraordinary results: purpose, priority, and productivity.

Keller believes, “these three are forever connected and continually confirming each other’s existence in our lives. Their link leads to the two areas where you’ll apply the ONE Thing—one big and one small.”

He defines the ONE Thing as your purpose, and the your small One Thing as the priority you take action on to achieve it. The_One_Thing_Productivity__is_driven__Priority

Keller uses the illustration of an iceberg where 1/9 of an iceberg is above water.  Productivity, priority and purpose are related, and, most importantly, what you see is determined by what you don’t.  See the figure here to get a better visual of what he means. 

Most businesses fail to realize that Productivity is driven by purpose and priority.  I like Keller’s description of this, “The most productive people start with purpose and use it like a compass. They allow purpose to be the guiding force in determining the priority that drives their actions. This is the straightest path to extraordinary results.”

Adding the outcome of profit, it’s the same for business. The_One_Thing_Business_Success_Habit_Driven_by_Purpose-1What’s visible to the public—productivity and profit—is always buoyed by the substance that serves as the company’s foundation— purpose and priority. All businesspeople want productivity and profit, but too many fail to realize that the best path to attaining them is through purpose-driven priority.

My experience in my AML ordeal convinced me that Purpose and Priority ultimately led to a miraculous spontaneous remission of my cancer. I certainly didn’t achieve it without the Divine Intervention of the Creator.  Yet God provided these tools for each of us to utilize to create miracles in our lives, the lives of others and our businesses.  We negate the Divine Spark that is in us all when we fail to use these tools for the purpose He intended.

Great businesses are built one productive person at a time. And, not surprisingly, the most productive people receive the greatest rewards from their business. Connecting purpose, priority and productivity determines how high above the rest successful individuals and profitable businesses rise. Understanding this is at the core of producing extraordinary results.

Keller provides two stories to illustrate the power or purpose.  We’ll share both with you in this and next blog.  First….


Upon coming out of his palace one morning and encountering a beggar, a king asks, “What do you want?” The beggar laughingly says, “You ask as though you can fulfill my desire!” Offended, the king replies, “Of course I can. What is it?” The beggar warns, “Think twice before you promise anything.”

Now, the beggar was no ordinary beggar but the king’s past-life master, who had promised in their former life, “I will come to try and wake you in our next life. This life you have missed, but I will come again to help you.” The king, not recognizing his old friend, insisted, “I will fulfill anything you ask, for I am a very powerful king who can fulfill any desire.” The beggar said, “It is a very simple desire. Can you fill this begging bowl?” “Of course!” said the king, and he instructed his vizier to “fill the man’s begging bowl with money.” The vizier did, but when the money was poured into the bowl, it disappeared. So he poured more and more, but the moment he did, it would disappear. The begging bowl remained empty.

Finally, as the crowd stood in utter silence, the king dropped at the beggars feet and admitted defeat. “You are victorious, but before you go, fulfill my curiosity. What is the secret of this begging bowl?” The beggar humbly replied, “There is no secret. It is simply made up of human desire.”

Your biggest challenge is to make sure your life’s purpose isn’t to become a beggar’s bowl, a bottomless pit of desire continually searching for the next thing that will make you happy.  Do you know anyone like that?  Are you like that yourself?  It’s a losing proposition.

Securing money or whatever we desire spikes our happiness meter—for a moment. It quickly retreats. Keller notes that, “Over the ages, our greatest minds have pondered happiness, and their conclusions are much the same: having money and things won’t automatically lead to lasting happiness.”

Next blog we’ll examine Keller’s second story from this chapter on Purpose.  One of my favorite Christmas movies is a Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens story of Scrooge.  I watch every Christmas Eve.  In a Christmas Carol Charles Dickens shows us a simple formula for creating an extraordinary life: Live with purpose. Live by priority. Live for productivity.  I’ll share Keller’s Big Ideas on his chapter on Live With Purpose. That’s next blog.

Topics: Acute Myeloid Luekemia, One Thing, Process/Productivity Drivers, productivity

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Doug Wick, President

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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
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- Meeting Rhythms

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