Keep The Main Thing, “The Main Thing”

I’m a prolific reader. I love to read about how to start and scale companies.

I used to buy everything I heard my favorite bloggers recommend. But I couldn’t focus on what I really needed to know and limit myself to just reading that.

If you’re like me you have a large pile of books sitting next to your desk waiting to be read…and this can cause stress and anxiety – stress in that I have too much to do, and anxiety in that I believe I need the information in those books to be successful.  

John Maxwell talks about keeping “the main thing the main thing” in Chapter 12 of “Leadership Gold” and then again in chapter 17 of “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” – The Law of Priorities.

He asks the following 3 questions to identify the main thing:

  1. What is required of me?
  2. What gives me the greatest return?
  3. What is the most rewarding?

Firstly, what is ‘required’ of me is the easiest to ascertain. It’s your basic job description. What do you need to do today that is expected of you? Simple.

It takes much longer to figure out your greatest ‘return’ and greatest ‘reward’, though.

Secondly, identifying your greatest ‘return’ boils down to the 80/20-rule.

You feel you need to keep up with so many excellent books being published every week. You think you’ll miss out if you don’t attend next month’s newest conference. And what happens if you don’t buy the latest moneymaking program that guarantees you higher profits and success? There are just too many distractions…

Identify your “main thing.” If you accomplish it, will it lead you in the direction of your goal? If so, then don’t start anything new until you complete it!

Here’s a trick I employ to help me: each night I determine the top 6 things I want to accomplish the next day. If during the day something new pops up – my shiny object for that day – instead of dropping everything and working on it, I’ll put it aside and not look at it. If during my review that evening it makes my top 6 for the next day, that is, if it’s important and aligned with my long-term focus, it stays on my list, otherwise it gets thrown out. Most of the time it gets discarded.

Finally, identifying your greatest ‘reward’ is often overlooked. It should be the most fulfilling thing for you to do. As business owners we drive ourselves very hard and the one thing we are not, is kind to ourselves. Even if we knew our greatest reward, we sometimes don’t allow ourselves to go there.

So what are you doing that gives you the greatest ‘reward’? If your business is all work and no fun, you’re missing out on life.

To understand your 3Rs (required, return, and reward) you must work, and then reflect – work and then reflect, over and over again…and only then will you grow.


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