The most important decision is to decide what is most important.

For the purposes of sharpening focus, your “one thing” is the one activity that most directly helps you execute your plan. Each day, each week, each month, each quarter, and each year, there is just one thing that is most vital for you to do in order to execute your plan. It’s also that activity that if you do not perform each day, week, month, you lose your competitive advantage.

Lee met UCLA Health System president, David Feinberg, a few years back as a guest at sea on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Dave keeps his one thing crystal clear and aligned throughout his organization. UCLA Health System is one of the most well-respected healthcare systems in the United States. But it was not always that way.

While there are several factors that contributed to UCLA’s assent to the top echelon of health systems, the key has been Feinberg’s singular focus. The system’s one thing, from top to bottom, is that the next patient receives great care – compassionate and quality care. Feinberg ensures that the one thing is constantly communicated and rigorously measured at all levels of the organization. Every team member’s one thing is aligned from a frontline function all the way up to the enterprise level. Of course, this translates into different tasks depending on the individual’s level and function, but all actions support the one thing of providing great care to the next patient.

We recently experienced firsthand an example of alignment between a company’s one thing and the actions of its frontline employees. It occurred on a Southwest Airlines flight. Southwest’s one thing is customer service, and if you have ever flown on Southwest, you know that the spirit of service is palpable. But what we experienced was extraordinary. It was a short, 45-minute flight from Houston to Dallas, so the beverage service had to be handled quickly.

We were busy discussing ideas for this book when we heard a commanding voice that didn’t sound like the flight attendant asking if we wanted peanuts or pretzels. We looked up, and to our surprise, it was a uniformed captain (he was not one of the pilots flying the plane; he was en route to his assigned flight). The captain explained that the flight attendants had already handled many flights that day, so he thought he would pitch in. It was the perfect alignment of an organization’s one thing, in this case customer service, from the executive suite to the aisle seat. That kind of alignment is a key factor behind Southwest Airlines’ record of 39 consecutive years of profitability.

So, what YOUR one thing?

For practical tips on sharpening your focus and identifying your One Thing, order Stick with It today … and WIN tomorrow!

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