How does a small private high school have a winning streak that defies belief?

De la Salle, When the game stands tall.


How does a computer company go from major losses to one of the biggest publicly traded companies in America?

Apple computers during Steve Jobs return.


They went small.



“’Going small’ is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do. It’s recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most. It’s a tighter way to connect what you do with what you want. It’s realizing that extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.” Gary Keller



Finding your ONE Thing


What is your ‘ONE Thing’?

What are you uniquely qualified to do? As a husband and father, wife and mother.

Related to work, what is your dream? What is your vision of your company? What is your dream in life?


My personal struggle is related to too many distractions and interruptions. I have a vision and a goal for what I want to see for my business, for my life, but I get stopped along the way. I have resorted to carrying my ‘office’ in a backpack and taking it with me wherever I go. A question I have started asking myself is ‘where do I need to say no, and what do I need to say no to, to focus on the things that matter?’ How do I get the most out of my day? Here are some things to consider in finding and living out your ONE Thing.





“People think that focus means saying yes to the things you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.” Steve Jobs


You need to remove things. Say no to the things that are keeping you from your ONE Thing.


“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”



Do not focus on doing things right. DO THE RIGHT THINGS



“It doesn’t matter how well you polish the underside of the banister.”

Randy Pausch, ‘The Last Lecture’


( I actually love this quote. My first thought was, “the underside of the banister was polished!” That speaks volumes about how I am wired.)


80/20 Rule – A small number of things are going to contribute the most.

Where is our value? What is our 20% that will contribute the most?

Do a few things well.


Focus on what is valuable.


“You must be single-minded. Drive for the one thingon which you have decided.” General George S. Patton



The areas that you lose track of time might be the ‘ONE Thing’ you are wired to do. Where do you lose track of time? What task are you doing? You may be good at it.


Use Strength Finders to see where your strengths lie.


“The secret to life is this…one thing. That’s for you to figure out.” Curly – City Slickers



Are you getting some things done but not what matters most?

How do we start?





“If you can dream it you can do it.” Walt Disney


If you refuse to allow yourself to dream it, you will not do it.

Inspiration is important. 

Disneyland was built in 366 days, from first shovel to first admission. When asked how it was accomplished in that time frame, in a limited amount of days, Disney said “We used every one of them.”


Failing to plan is planning to fail


Every evening, set your schedule, for the day, week, month.

You can’t change it if you do not have it. Acknowledge you can change it.


Read Genesis 1:5. God considered a day starting in the evening.  What do you think about this? We have heard that the morning is where we start but consider this idea of the evening being the start of the day. How does this change your perspective?

Wayne Cordero talks about sleeping in on the front side of the clock. Go to bed early. This is an idea that the next day starts during the evening before.


Break things down to small steps. The Domino effect. Example – “Son, make the bed first, then pick up your clothes.”





Consider ‘not important’ and ‘not due soon’ as optional. Maybe you never do this one.

What happens if you forget about your ‘to do list’? Is it too big?




  • Keep your desk clear. Have one thing on your desk, what you need to attend to.
  • With a messy desk, start with one part and set rules to keep it clean. Master that part of the desk first then tackle more.
  • Touch each piece of paper only once.
  • Your Inbox is not your ‘to do list’.
  • Time blocking (One Thing) The Power of Full Engagement, Steve Schwartz and Jim Loehr.
  • Timer on your phone, committing to one thing.
  • The Zorro Circle. Mastering a easier tasks before proceeding.
  • Rock climber analogy, look only 3 feet ahead.
  • Keep it small. As you master that one thing then expand your circle. If we try to do too many things we feel unsuccessful. Master a small thing.
  • Create a list of what is working (left side) and what isn’t (right side). Use this to focus and to remind yourself of what is working.


Your ‘ONE Thing’ might not be what you think. It might be difficult to figure out. De La Salle High School did not set out to win football games. That was a byproduct of their ‘ONE Thing’, developing young men to take their place in society, to be counted upon. This was their goal and their focus.



“You can’t get there alone. You need people.” Randy Pausch



“Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” Albert Einstein



Beware of monkeys!


Dave Ramsey tells a story of how he pictured his employees carrying a monkey on their shoulders as they entered his office. The monkeys represented their problems and they would leave their monkey with Dave. Pretty soon he had a room full of monkeys. His question, how do you get your team to leave with their monkey? Help them, but get them to solve the problem on their own by not taking personal responsibility for others or their responsibilities. This seems contrary to leadership advice. Leadership can be defined as taking responsibility for your actions as well as the actions of others. In this situation you are managing other people’s monkeys and it is best to teach your team how to problem solve or your time will be eaten up by something other than your ONE THING.


Be 100% present where you are.


In our living room, between the book shelf and the hallway to our room, is a plaque. This small plaque is a daily reminder to me of being present. It has three words that by themselves do not amount to much but together are a powerful motivator. These words are “BE HERE NOW”. Be present and fully engaged in whatever situation that you find yourself.






“What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”



The Last Lecture is a lecture from Randy Pausch, a professor who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and following this lecture passed away. It is a story of his life and what became important. Oprah Winfrey thought his story was unique and inspiring. I did too.




The ONE Thing, Gary Keller

Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

When the Game Stands Tall, Bob Ladouceur, De La Salle High School