The Focusing Question


In Jay Papasan’s book The One Thing, co-authored with Gary Keller (as in Keller Williams Real Estate), he coins a term called the Focusing Question, which forces you to make the best decision about what to focus on and what actions to take: “What’s the one thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”  

They write, “Powered by the Focusing Question, your actions become a natural progression of building one right thing on top of the previous right thing. When this happens, you’re in a position to experience the power of the domino effect.”

I’ve been thinking about my “One Thing” for a few weeks now. I literally ripped my favorite page out of the book, and it stares at me from my nightstand every evening as I step into bed, having failed continually to narrow to the One Thing.

The concept on the page is called “Goal Setting to the Now.”

Someday Goal > Five-Year Goal > One-Year Goal > Monthly Goal > Weekly Goal > Daily Goal > Right Now (Based on my Daily Goal, what’s the One Thing I can do right now?)

It’s an extraordinarily powerful concept if you convert it to behavior.

Today ask yourself: “What’s the one thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything will be easier or unnecessary?”

Damn. Where do I start?  I have too many candidates. Authoring multiple books. Hosting several podcasts. Writing multiple columns for different media outlets. It’s too much. No specific one thing is getting my prime attention. I’ve come to own that I have too many Someday Goals that flow from all of these leveraged and enjoyable activities.

Any one of them should be best in class, and as a result, it’s become impossible for me to narrow to the action I should take today. I must choose one significant Someday Goal, and then it will be clearer what I should do today.

Buy this book. I’ve read 70 leadership and business books so far in 2019, and this is top on my list. But unlike me, don’t just read and rip it—actually decide your One Thing and what you’re going to do Right Now to make it happen.

Invest your time, attention, and energy on your highest priorities. Register to attend a complimentary 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity webcast to learn how.

About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a twenty-three-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as the executive vice president of thought leadership. Scott hosts multiple podcasts including FranklinCovey On Leadership and Great Life, Great Career. Additionally, Scott is a co-author of The Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Everyone Deserves A Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices For Leading A Team. He is also the author of the multiweek Amazon #1 New Release, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow. Scott writes a weekly leadership column for and is a frequent contributor to Thrive Global. Previously, Scott worked for the Disney Development Company and grew up in Central Florida. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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