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Extraordinary Results Require Great Answers

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Thu, Jan 12, 2017

One Thing -Ask a Great Question Get a Great Answer.jpgHave you ever had someone in your life who believed in you?

I don’t mean they just believed in you. I mean they believed you can achieve much more than your current level.  They saw your potential.  They believed in you beyond anything you could imagine possible.

Perhaps it was a parent, a coach, a teacher, a very special friend. 

I love this quote from Cathy Cartoonist, Cathy Guisewite:

"All parents believe their children can do the impossible. They thought it the minute we were born, and no matter how hard we've tried to prove them wrong, they all think it about us now. And the really annoying thing is, they're probably right"

We continue to explore The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan.

  1. Ask A Great Question

Great questions are like the person you remember who pushed you to be your best.  Who pressed you to not only believe you could do what you believed impossible, he/she saw you able to achieve the “incredible” before you did.

One Thing - Four Options for Framing a Great Question.jpgGreat questions push you, stretch you, aim you at big, specific answers.  Because they are measurable (Metrics #2 element of Strategic Discipline) you don’t get to wiggle around to avoid being accountable.  You know before you start what it looks like when you achieve it.  Consequently, you know what it’s like if you fail.

Four Options to Frame a Great Question

Quadrant 4.  Small & Specific

Look at the figure here.  See the Power of the Focusing Question as we examine pros and cons of each questions quadrant.

One Thing - Four Options for Framing a Great Question (Illustra.jpg“What can I do to increase sales by 5% this year?“ Truth is 5% is hardly challenging in most industries or businesses.  The market shifts in your favor and you accomplish it while doing little if anything to make it happen. Low goals don’t require extraordinary actions.  They rarely produce extraordinary results.

Quadrant 3.  Small & Broad

“What can I do to increase sales?”  This is the kind of average question most people ask.  They wonder why their answer didn’t deliver an extraordinary result.  How many times have you been victimized by this?  This is a brainstorming question only.  How much will you increase sales? By when? 

Quadrant 2.  Big & Broad

“What can I do to double sales?”  Too many options here.  If you’re doubling sales in 20 years it’s far different from doubling sales in a year or less.  Good start.  This leaves more questions than it answers.  You need to be specific.

Quadrant 2.  Big & Specific

“What can I do to double sales in six months?”  Big goal and it’s specific! You’re going to have to really stretch to achieve this.  Doubling sales, not easy.  In six months?  Who is going to achieve this?  Ask a Great Question, you pursue a great goal. 

A big specific question leads to a big, specific answer, which is absolutely necessary to achieve a big goal. 


Here’s the challenge: Once you’ve asked a great question, now you need to find a great answer.

Doable: this is the answer that is within reach of your knowledge, skills, and experience.  You probably know how to do it and it won’t take much to get it.  Doable is the most likely to be achieved.

One Thing - The Success Habit Unlocks Possibilities.jpgStretch: Still within your reach, it’s at the farthest end of your range.  You’ll have to study and research to discover what others have done to come up with this answer. It’s an iffy proposition.  You’ll have to extend yourself to the limits of your current capabilities.  Think of this as perhaps your limits of your capabilities.  It’s potentially achievable, probable, depending on your efforts.

Possibility: Still with me?  According to Gary Keller, “High achievers understand these first two routes but reject them. Unwilling to settle for ordinary when extraordinary is possible, they’ve asked a Great Question and want the very best answer. 

As the title of this blog states: Extraordinary Results Require Great Answers.

Keller states this best, “Highly successful people choose to live at the outer limits of achievement. They not only dream of but deeply crave what is beyond their natural grasp. They know this type of answer is the hardest to come by but also know that just by extending themselves to find it, they expand and enrich their life for the better. If you want the most from your answer, you must realize that it lives outside your comfort zone. This is rare air. A big answer is never in plain view, nor is the path to finding one laid out for you. A possibility answer exists beyond what is already known and being done. As with a stretch goal, you can start out by doing research and studying the lives of other high achievers. But you can’t stop there. In fact, your search has just begun. Whatever you learn, you’ll use it to do what only the greatest achievers do: benchmark and trend.

Great Answer is essentially a new answer. It is a leap across all current answers in search of the next one and is found in two steps. The first is the same as when you stretch. You uncover the best research and study the highest achievers. Anytime you don’t know the answer, your answer is to go find your answer. In other words, by default, your first ONE Thing is to search for clues and role models to point you in the right direction. The first thing to do is ask, ‘Has anyone else studied or accomplished this or something like it?’ The answer is almost always yes, so your investigation begins by finding out what others have learned”


Most of us pursue life at a limited level.  We fear getting out of our comfort zone.  We achieve ordinary results because we purse an ordinary process for achievement. 

In Strategic Discipline we require first the leadership team and company and then everyone in the company to build a dashboard to track their progress.  Whatever it is you want to achieve Keller shares individual goals, benchmarking, and trending is your best option to achieve it.  One Thing - The Benchmark is Today's Success - Trend is Tomorro.jpgThe daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly meeting rhythms ensure you stay disciplined in your approach to achieve your result. 

When your answer is original, a great answer, you probably need to reinvent yourself in some way to implement it.  A new answer requires new behavior. If you need to change the process along the way, do it!

Why? Because that’s where the magic happens!  When you maximize your reach, you maximize your life.

Here are Keller’s Big Ideas from this chapter:

  1. Think big and specific. Setting a goal you intend to achieve is like asking a question. It’s a simple step from “I’d like to do that” to “How do I achieve that?” The best question—and by default, the best goal—is big and specific: big, because you’re after extraordinary results; specific, to give you something to aim at and to leave no wiggle room about whether you hit the mark. A big and specific question, especially in the form of the Focusing Question, helps you zero in on the best possible answer.
  2. Think possibilities. Setting a doable goal is almost like creating a task to check off your list. A stretch goal is more challenging. It aims you at the edge of your current abilities; you stretch to reach it. The best goal explores what’s possible. When you see people and businesses that have undergone transformations, this is where they live.
  3. Benchmark and trend for the best answer. No one has a crystal ball, but with practice you can become surprisingly good at anticipating where things are heading. The people and businesses who get there first often enjoy the lion’s share of the rewards with few, if any, competitors. Benchmark and trend to find the extraordinary answer you need for extraordinary results.


Explore to discover your One Thing.  Please pickup The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan. The next step in the book I shared in Purpose - The Dickens of Your One Thing – Merry Christmas.

In today’s dynamic world, if your business isn’t innovating you’re losing ground.  Next blog we’ll explore Kaihan Krippendorff, OUTTHINK THE COMPETITION.  We’ll look at why,  “Truly effective strategies must be disruptive, meaning they are creative and difficult for competitors to copy.” 

Topics: Strategic Discipline, meeting rhythms, metrics, The One Thing, Extraordinary Results

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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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