Know Your One Thing This morning I was listening to a webinar by top leadership coach, Robin Sharma, about his ‘Formula For Uncommon Success.’ In it he explains how super successful people and businesses ‘know their one thing’ and focus all their efforts on doing this extremely well. This reminded me of something my own business mentor, Catherine Watkin, often says; that you’ve got to be crystal clear on your niche because then you will operate from your zone of genius. Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post titled the 6 Ways To Find Your Ideal Client. The links between the two are obvious. If you know what your ‘one thing’ is, it is so much easier to identify the target audience for your product or service and to focus your marketing activities accordingly.

In his video, Sharma cites the example of Steve Jobs. One of Jobs's greatest strengths was knowing his ‘one thing’ – or put another way, knowing how to focus. "Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do," he said. "That's true for companies, and it's true for products." Steve Jobs explained focus as follows:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

He put it another way, when talking about Nike

“You make some of the best products in the world - but you also make a lot of crap. Get rid of the crappy stuff.”

When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 (having been ousted from Apple in 1985 in a failed leadership battle with the CEO, John Sculley), the company was at its lowest point, with its stock price hovering below $4. Most people saw the company as a lost cause but not Steve Jobs. He set about reducing Apple's bloated computer range from some 40 products to just 4. At an internal meeting, he grabbed a magic marker pen, and drew a four-squared chart on the whiteboard. "Here's what we need," he explained. At the head of the two columns, he wrote "Consumer" and "Pro." He labelled the two rows "Desktop" and "Portable." Apple’s job, he said, was to make four great products, one for each quadrant. One of Jobs’ greatest talents was as an editor, and it was this ability which helped him save Apple from going off on a variety of different tangents and focus on doing a few things far better than any other company.

Steve Jobs learnt this lesson at Pixar; that the secret of being a world class company is to focus on doing one thing extremely well. Prior to Jobs taking over Pixar as CEO, the company was losing money and Jobs regularly considered selling it. Under his leadership, the company focused its efforts exclusively on producing and promoting ‘Toy Story’ which went on to become the highest grossing domestic movie of 1995. As a brand, Pixar - with 14 consecutive No. 1 box office hits and $7 billion in worldwide ticket sales - has come to stand for consistent excellence. Pixar accomplished this by focusing all its resources into just one film every three years, and this is what has allowed them to create 14 consecutive blockbuster movies.

Sport is littered with examples of athletes who ‘know their one thing.’  The tennis player Roger Federer is a genius, but his phenomenal success on court is not simply the result of his natural athletic gifts. Like his rival Rafael Nadal, Federer has achieved his success by devoting considerable time and effort on becoming brilliant at tennis. Although gifted at football, he decided to focus on tennis at the age of 12 because "I liked tennis the best of all sports. It was always exciting and winning or losing was always in my hands."His success is due to his determination to be ‘the best in the world’ and his relentless focus on daily improvement. Federer’s success is due to his running the formula:


So what is your ‘one thing?’ What do you excel at – and love? Take what you’re gifted at, focus your energies on becoming exceptional at this and in the next few years, you’ll be known as an expert in your industry.


What are the one or two things that you will focus on over the next 12 months that will make you the best at what you do in your industry? I'd love for you to share this in the comments box below.

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