Do Just One Thing

Lisa Kelly / May 11, 2015 /



In the movie The Blindside there is a scene in which Sandra Bullock’s character, Leigh Anne Tuohy, an upper class, white, mother of two, is trying to build a relationship with Michael Oher, an oversized inner city African American teenager (played by Quinton Aaron).  After hitting brick wall after brick wall, she turns to him and says, “Tell me one thing, just one thing, I ought to know about you.” And thus the relationship begins.
Leigh Anne had a goal - to help this boy. She could see his potential, his goodness, his worth. She knew her calling to act, to protect, to provide. But all the details in between where they were starting and how to get where she wanted to go were a mystery.

She started with finding just one thing she could do.

Most of us start in a similar place with our own intentions and objectives. We have the goal and the inner calling to make something happen, but how to get there from our starting place remains a mystery. Best Year Yet® wisdom says, “Do one thing, just one thing towards that goal.” Maybe it is just one thing today, just one thing this week, or just one thing this month. You do not have to see the whole path. The whole path can be overwhelming and often isn't even visible in the beginning. Once you take the first step, stop and consider the next step, taking time to learn as you go. Use those learnings and watch how they can make each consecutive step even easier to see.

If your goal is around losing weight, you need focus no further than today. Just for today I am going to reduce my portion sizes. This isn’t saying you aren’t going to do the same tomorrow, but let tomorrow take care of itself. Let all of your motivation focus on today rather than trying to gear up all at once for the whole race. A good part of your motivation for tomorrow will come from succeeding in the one thing you do today.

For organizations, making monthly goals just one step at a time requires trust in each other and adaptability. Too often organizations want the strategic plan all laid out step by step ahead of time, identifying where they should be each month.

This strategy works to the extent that the organization is seasoned at accomplishing the goal at hand. When you are venturing into new territory, where some of the most innovative work happens, agree to leave the map open ended and do just one thing to determine the next step on the path to the desired result. Of course, doing so requires that everyone stays more focused on the end goal rather than on the tactics to get there. It also requires honest feedback to accurately assess, courage to adapt, and patience to see the outcome of identifying just that next step.

The key for both individuals and organizations is to keep the end in mind, while focusing fully on doing just one thing at a time toward that final goal - and then celebrating it when you do!

What one thing could you do today toward one of your goals?
About the Author
BYYWhosWhoLisaKelly.pngLisa Kelly is a Best Year Yet® Parter in Omaha, Nebraska. She has adapted Best Year Yet® as The Spiritual Path specifically for faith-based organizations and individuals to fully incorporate prayer and discernment into their strategic planning.
She is one of the original founders of Leadership for Life, is currently the Mission Integration Consultant for Alegent Health and a practitioner of Ignatian spirituality in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition.  Her background in leadership stems from a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University and years of experience leading in non-profit and educational settings.  She previously resided internationally in Latin America and served on the boards of two international non-profits that have provided her with a unique perspective on service, faith, and leadership.  She frequently writes for the IgnatianLife blog and works as a strategic planning coach, offering The Spiritual Path retreats for individuals and faith-based organizations.


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