Key #2:
The One Thing

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW "THE SECRET OF LIFE?"

There’s this bad cowboy movie from the ‘90s called City Slickers.

 

(It's not good. Don't watch it.)

 

In the movie, an old cowboy, Curly, is riding along with Mitch, a New Yorker who comes to the American southwest to ranch cattle hoping to find some kind of purpose.

 

"Do you know what the secret of life is?" Curly asks him.

 

He holds up one finger.

 

"This."


"Your finger?" asks Mitch.

"One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean sh*t."

"But, what's the 'one thing?'"

Curly smiles. "That’s what you have to find out."

 

How to Make it into the History Books

If we look at the people who’ve truly "moved the needle" throughout history, their lives can usually be summed up in one short sentence.

Martin Luther King Jr.: To achieve racial equality in America.

 

Albert Einstein: To understand the fundamental laws of the universe.

Mary Walstoncraft: To give women the right to vote.
 

And while history does tend to flatten people a bit, the point still stands:

 

Each of these people dedicated the majority of their lives to one overarching goal.

 

And we remember and love them for it.

 

When we dedicate ourselves to one thing, our lives become simpler and we make progress faster.

 

Why is that?

 

Imagine a ball trying to go in seven directions at once.

 

After about ten minutes or so, the ball probably wouldn't get very far.

 

But if these forces aligned in one direction, the ball would go fast and far.

 

The ball represents our lives.

 

If we’re being pulled every which way: we get nowhere.

 

If we align all our forces in a single direction: WHOOSH!

 

Focus creates power

 

Focused light beams give you a laser.

 

Focused practice gives you Michael Jordan.

 

Focus your life and you’ll get pretty much anything you want.

 

But this is where most people stop short.

 

Paul Graham said that if you take a random person off the street and ask them "Do you want to draw like Leonardo da Vinci?"

 

They'd probably say, "No, I'd never be able to."

 

This is a statement of intention, not fact, says Graham:

 

"The fact is, if you took a random person off the street and somehow got them to work as hard as they possibly could at drawing for the next twenty years, they'd get surprisingly far. But it would require a great moral effort; it would mean staring failure in the eye every day for years. And so to protect themselves people say 'I can't.'"

 

Practice is painful.

 

Failure is more painful.

 

To defend ourselves from pain, we say “I can’t.”

 

The truth is, we can get good at just about anything if we apply enough focus.

 

But if we want to find our calling—something that can fill our life with purpose until the day we die—we can't just pull it out of a hat.

 

Our "one thing" can't be just anything.

 

It has to be something very specific.

 

What should the One Thing be?

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