Click on the play button to find out about the Main Thing

In This Episode…

In this episode I shares my recent experiences of helping coaching clients get clarity on their Main Thing. In it I cover:

  • The importance of getting clear on what your main thing is.
  • The difference between your main thing and your next thing.
  • Challenges faced by coaching clients in choosing their main thing.
  • The conflicting requirements of reactive and proactive main things.
  • How to choose what your main thing is.
  • If your main thing is reactive, what to focus on when you are not actually reacting.

Episode Show Notes…

00:08 – I have been working with a number of coaching clients this week. A consistent problem amongst them was not being clear on what their main thing is.

00:49 – I make the distinction between the MAIN thing (your current driver – where your focus is directed at) and your NEXT thing (what you need to do next to move you a step closer to your main thing).

01:30 – Getting clear on what my main/next thing is helps me cut through distractions. Here’s my favourite quote on this topic:

In the absence of direction (or purpose), everything becomes relevant.


02:09 – When you get very clear on your main thing, it is very easy to filter out all of the irrelevant options open to you and zoom in on what’s really relevant.

03:01 – Defining the main thing appears to have been a bit of a challenge with all of the coaching clients I have worked with this week. That means they are overwhelmed and swamped by what they feel they have to do and struggle to make decisions on what to prioritise.

03:55 – If you work in a team that doesn’t appear to be achieving as best it could, then it’s highly likely the main thing is either nor clear, or not every one is aligned to it.

04:22 – I am a big advocate of working for long periods of unbroken time on single tasks to get me the next step closer to my main thing. Doing this means you can shut out distractions and interruptions and avoid being reactive.

05:03 – What has been interesting for me this week is there are people who work in very reactive environments (by design) and so that strategy would not work. I was asked about that on a recent webinar following my live seminar tour,

05:33 – As a productivity consultant, when faced with an environment of reactivity in a relatively benign work environment, the reactivity is often symptomatic of process, system or even cultural dysfunctionality. However there are work environments where reaction is the job – I am thinking of one particular client who works for the Fire and Rescue Service.

06:09 – So when asked about the main thing in that environment, my response was that people need to understand whether the main thing is static or dynamic in nature. In a necessarily reactive environment, the ability to respond is the MAIN thing.

06:33 – If your main thing is static, the you probably want to shut out distractions and interruptions so you can get your main thing done. If your main thing is dynamic (and reactive) then you probably don’t want to be tied down to one activity.

07:04 – This got me thinking more about how to operate in an environment where the ability to respond and react at short notice is important. The main thing then becomes the ability and availability to react and deal with what you need to react to.

07:17 – But when you are not in the process of actually reacting, here is what your main thing activities might include:

  • Developing and fine tuning your systems and processes required to effectively react, i.e. improving your ability and resources to react.
  • Anticipating potential scenarios in advance and being even more ready to deal with them.
  • Analysing and identifying scenarios that require you to react and seeking out “fixes” that mean future reactions are not triggered or necessary.

08:05 – So you have two extremes of Main Thing. On one hand you have something that is static that you proactively work towards. On the other hand you have something much more dynamic and reactive. There are also many shades of grey in between depending on the nature of your work.

08:44 – There is a great Russian proverb (quote in the One Thing by Gary Keller):

If you chase two rabbits, you’ll catch neither.

Russian Proverb

08:50 – When you prioritise your focus and concentrate on one thing, it is the best way of harnessing your personal resources. When you begin multitasking you dilute your focus and become inefficient because of context switching.

09:20 – So is your main thing reactive or proactive. Either way, you’ll need to know.

Until tomorrow…

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