The Secret to Life

“The ONE THING shows up time and again in the lives of the successful because it’s a fundamental truth.” Gary W. Keller

Answer these questions with complete honesty: What is left undone in your life right now? What is nagging at your very heart to get done? What is pleading with you not to forego another year? If you are not lacking in any of these vital aspects of life, I congratulate you because you would be considered as a universally rare individual. Almost all of us have something that is left uncompleted.  And, personally, I have more than one. Do you?

Is it health? Could it be a relationship you want to repair before it is too late? Is it a letter that you want and need to write? Is it that wonderful dream you have had all your life — but typical life demands got in the way?  You or someone whom you love suffered an illness, experienced a pregnancy, or lost a job. Perhaps you permanently lost a family member or friend.  A big event happened.  Life is sometimes that way, is it not? And you made an adjustment. A big adjustment. Perhaps the biggest adjustment in your life. It might have been the right choice. Maybe, the best you could do at the time.

But . . . is it now. Today. And you once, again, have a choice. What are you going to do?

“Do you know the secret to life?”

That is one of my favorite lines in a scene from one of my favorite movies, City Slickers.  The cowherd boss asks the city slicker, played by actor Billy Crystal, the question. With no answer forthcoming, the city slicker immediately poses the question back to the cowherd boss who responds . . . ‘just one thing.’

But just what is that one thing? The cowherd boss continues to share his wisdom emphatically stating, “­You  have to figure that out.”  And, then he finishes with, “Once you figure that out, nothing else matters.”

Well, nothing else matters only if you execute in doing that one thing.

I love the one thing question. I have used it many, many times, on large projects and sometimes just in daily life. It is a great way to live in an effective, efficient manner. It is a powerful success principle.

A significant personal example in my life came at one pivotal moment when, in 2013, I turned over the CEO role of Hackbarth Delivery Service (HDS), the company my wife Carol and I founded, to our older daughter, Kelly. Benefiting from the wisdom of Gary Markle of Catalytic Coaching, I made a change within 24 hours – a major change I had talked about for years and was planning to implement in another two years. Yes, you heard me correctly. The CEO position in our company was passed on in a 24-hour decision. I was not supported by my wife at first, and Kelly  some huge concerns about the speed of the change. And yet, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. And the timing was exactly right. In 24 hours, I began to live a dream I had envisioned all the way back to high school. To speak on a professional level. Later, I added writing, a meaningful activity I discovered I love.

However, all the signs indicated something else. The insanity of changing any CEO role in just two days is obvious.  Gary Markle looked into my heart and challenged me to live my life by what I truly believed. To vocalize my one thing and to be true to myself, and just as important, to be true to HDS, where I was serving only as part-time CEO. This was one of the biggest and most important decisions I have ever made in my life. And, it was right. Exactly right. One of the best I have ever made. And, I am proud of the fact, that when faced and challenged to make a new decision, I did not hesitate. I confronted my discovery and executed.

Two important elements of the ‘just one thing’ success principle is discovery and execution. Without execution, it is just a conversation. An important one, but just talk.

I did not postpone what my heart, again and again, was telling me to do.

Life is short. You already know that. If you live to be a 100, it is still short.

I am in the fourth quarter of my life. I must not wait. I must pay attention to all the visible signs. And, importantly, I need to pay attention to the signs that reside in my heart.

Right now. At this very moment . . . what is your one thing?  Say it now out loud. Identify it. Then, execute.

Today, I . . .

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