OK, I’m going to show my age here.

Jack-Palance-as-Curly-shows-One-Thing-in-City-SlickersIn the 1991 movie City Slickers, there’s a conversation between the wide-eyed Mitch (Billy Crystal) and the grizzled veteran Curly (Jack Palance):

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?

[holds up one finger]

Curly: This.

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean s**t.

Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”

Curly: [smiles] That’s what *you* have to find out.

We begin to understand that the “one thing” is something about purpose, or dedication, or passion. It’s as much generated internally as bestowed externally.

As a leader in your business, your primary job is to discover, create, articulate, communicate, and reinforce your “one thing.”

Feel free to argue that limiting yourself to just one thing is ridiculous. You need to serve customers AND make a profit AND motivate employees.  I understand.

These things are important, yes. Quite admirable even. But it’s worth exploring whether there’s a deeper motivation behind them.

  • Something which is amazing.
  • Something which is absolutely non-negotiable.
  • Something different than all your competition.

I’ve run into businesses which have these kinds of powerful foundations:

  • “I’m only going to do this as long as we’re really serving people.”
  • “It’s not worth anything if we aren’t creating an amazing organization.”
  • “Our prime directive is to set a new standard for environmental sustainability.”

Sure, these statements don’t cover everything the business is doing – none of them actually says what product or service they produce.  But these do address the driving part of the “why” for the business.

What’s your “one thing”? That amazing, powerful, unique core of your business?


This article was first published in InnovatioNews.

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