What’s The One Thing?

Richard Shrapnel's 'What’s The One Thing?'.

If you’re the CEO of a business, it’s likely your days are consumed with a multitude of meetings and tasks in trying to respond to everyone’s requests and keep everyone aligned and moving forward.  There has to be a better way to run a business. Do you know what it is?


Active Knowledge Question:

If you had the opportunity to focus on just one thing in your business, what would that be?


CEO Of Nothing

Do you feel that day after day you are so overrun with attending to the mundane and trivial (you know, the small stuff) that you actually never get the chance to do what you think is really important?

Are your days run for you and scheduled weeks ahead, where you actually have to ask someone else what you should be doing this day or week?

Or do you get caught in ‘fire-fighting’ mode where all your energies are consumed fixing one problem after another and you end your day exhausted and overwhelmed?

The more senior you become in a business, the more removed you can become from the real business. This means the less control you can have over where your energies are applied, and the less impact you are able to have on the direction and impact your business is having.

This can be a real risk, which must be actively guarded against, if you want to be the CEO of a great business.

But the opposite can also be true.

As CEO, you can energise, guide, focus and lift your business to levels of performance and achievements that no one ever thought possible. But to achieve this there is an approach to the role of CEO that you have to adopt.

It’s your choice – CEO of nothing with every day immersed in the mess that businesses can become or CEO of something great that you are building.


Some Basics To Building ‘Great’

Achievers in life exist because they are very conscious of:

And they live these principles in their personal lives and then inject them into their businesses.

Here are eight basic rules that come from having the achiever trait:

  1. Extraordinary results do not come about by accident or luck, they are directly proportional to your degree of focus. The more narrow your focus, the more extraordinary your results will be.
  2. Focus must be built and refined. It starts in a simple linear fashion with one focus. Then stepping forward, one foot after the other, on a straight path sequentially, compounding each step of the way. Then, and only then, does it begin to take a geometric form from the cornerstone that has been built.
  3. It starts with one thing. What is the one thing that must be done now before all else can proceed, which will enable all else to flow? Then, once that one thing is done, what is the next step? Absolute focus, sequentially.
  4. Focus, strength, endurance, discipline and courage are all limited resources, which will wear thin as the day, week or month drains this reserve. Apply this reserve where it needs to be, where is most important, to your ‘one thing’, first. Then and only then, apply it to what else may be necessary. Consider the 80/20 rule in applying your reserves to your one thing and don’t become distracted.
  5. Create space to replenish your reserves. Create patterns and habits in your life to sustain your reserves. One habit at a time. Create it. Lock it away. Then, find the next important task that can become a habit.
  6. Surround and immerse yourself with people who build and lift you up and make you be the best you can be. A tribe that fuels itself with the right energy.
  7. Think big. Think the impossible. Create a massive space to grow into with limits no one ever thought possible. You won’t know what’s possible if you create limits.
  8. Your motive must be righteous to achieve the extraordinary. Greed won’t get you there. Only humility and gratitude can seed your motive.


Creating Great In Your Business

These achiever traits can be readily injected and take form in your business. Here are the ways that you, as a CEO, can build something great through your business:

  1. Select only worthy leaders. Being an achiever comes from who you are as a person. The leaders in your business seed who your business is as a person. The reality of centripetal leadership requires that your influence be ‘spider-webbed’ throughout the entire business. This can only occur if leaders – formal and informal – exist who possess the right personal character traits. Worthy leadership starts and finishes with the character of that person and their motives. The ceiling to the success of your business is set by the weakest leader in your business, and this falls to their character.
  2. Create a righteous purpose for your business’s existence. Businesses are usually formed to meet a specific need within a community. They often lose this focus as time passes and with it their sense of purpose. A purposeless business is heartless and directionless. It has no character or cause in which to anchor itself and can only chase one opportunity after another. There can be no real focus and, therefore, no extraordinary results, as its presence in the market really serves no purpose.
  3. Build relationships of trust. A tribe can only flourish where trust exists. A knowing that everyone truly cares for each other and their welfare – today and tomorrow. Traits such as focus, strength, endurance, discipline and courage can never be activated and drawn to the surface where there is an absence of trust.
  4. Craft a motive to compete. Profit as the motive for a business’s existence is a fallacy. A CEO who builds a business whose motive is profit-first will be running a business where their leadership team will spend every day solving problems, fighting fires, and listening to everyone else’s complaints. Businesses are made to compete. Understand what that means, make that the motive of your business, and it will never be the same. Extraordinary results will follow.
  5. Focus on need. Businesses exist to compete, to draw to the forefront the greatest talent and effort everyone is capable of delivering. All of this effort is channelled into meeting the needs of a community they have chosen to serve, no matter what that need may be. A focus on need provides exactly that: a focus. One that is likely righteous and allows everyone to participate and contribute for a reason other than self-interest.
  6. Set the quest. The vision you set for your business represents the quest, the journey, that you are asking everyone to join you on. Make it enticing and impossible so that you draw the challenge out of everyone and then the extraordinary will follow.


These actions towards greatness will allow you to take control of your business and set it on a path to being competitively fit and able to out-compete everyone else it in your market.  It sets the path that your ‘one thing’ can follow in building your great business.


 An entirely new level of performance.

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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel