In last week’s issue, we discussed the first of four adherence accelerators to help sharpen your focus. The second adherence accelerator is to identify your one thing.

For the purposes of sharpening focus, your “one thing” is the one activity that most directly helps you execute your plan. It’s the most vital of your vital few activities. 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.

The most important decision is to decide what is most important. We must be discerning in order to identify the single most important thing to work on in any given moment. Start with yourself and ask, “What is most important thing I can do right now to execute our plan?”

Identify the most important goal for the organization. That should drive your department’s goal, which in turn should dictate your goal. Therefore, your one thing (most important activity) should support your team’s top priority. Your team’s priority should support your department’s goal, and so on all the way up the enterprise, so that there is organizational alignment.

Julie, my co-author, and I 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 our book, Stick with It, 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.

As a leader, your primary responsibility to your team, your organization, and your shareholders is to execute your plan. When you are clear about what is most important you will know the one thing you have to get done. If you get 99 percent of your job done but fail to complete the most important thing, then you will fail. But if you achieve only your one thing, you will succeed. Your one thing is today’s stepping stone to tomorrow’s victory.

For more tips to identify and align your one thing, including how UCLA Health System’s president brings this concept to life, read Stick with It: Mastering the Art of Adherence or contact us to discuss how we can help.

Copyright © 2013 by The L Group, Inc.