EPISODE 40 — Jay Papasan — The ONE Thing
Jay Papasan is an executive, speaker, and author of Wall Street Journal Business best-selling book The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
On their quest for success, many entrepreneurs invite a level of complexity into their lives that can be utterly counterproductive. As Jay explains, making real progress professionally requires both discipline and simplicity — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
In this episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast, he explains why the most successful people have an awesome day before noon, how mindful order and honed energy create a domino effect, and why multitasking breeds untold levels of inefficiency.
5:25 – Simple versus easy. “There’s a big difference between simple and easy. It’s in the subtitle: ‘It’s a surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results.’ As practical people — I would say pragmatic — Gary and I read not just to learn, but to do. This is something that he just beat into my head: complicated and ‘sophisticated’ aren’t the same thing. A lot of people get sold these very complex multi-part plants and they’re very hard to live. You can do it for a week or two and then it falls apart because you’re trying to change too much. So, simple is always the better path. I believe simple is the ultimate sophistication, and I really do believe that if we can keep it simple and focus on the handful of things, much more will happen and people can implement that day to day.”
8:34 – Narrowing down priorities. “A lot of us work from to-do lists, and a lot of us have a list of things that we know are our priorities. That’s great. It’s great to understand your priorities and have a plan, but if you can take it one step further and say, ‘Of all the things that I could do, what is the one thing that I should?’ You’re just saying, ‘What’s the 20% of this?’ until you get to one. We do a little exercise where they’ll make a list of 25 things that they’ve remembered they have to do, and then they identify usually no more than five things that actually matter — and what’s even better is that of that handful of things that matter, there’s a clear number one. And when I look at the days that I know that I knocked out my number one first, I feel kind of righteous.”
16:24 – Multitasking is not possible. “When you do your list in the morning — your success list — and you know what your number one is, don’t multitask while you’re doing that. What I found is that people who actually focus — they turn off their email, they have an assistant and tell them to hold all calls and they get focused for this period of time — they’re aware that they are vastly more productive. And that can be a little bit addictive.”
18:19 – What is discipline? “Discipline is training yourself to do something until it’s automatic. I kind of intellectually understood that, and I could see it in Gary’s life and in my own life at different times when I’d taken the time to build a really powerful habit, whether it be diet or exercise or whatever, and then all of a sudden it just kind of became automatic. It’s really just going through this hard work period to build a habit and then things get a lot easier for you. It’s a lot easier to maintain.”
25:25 – Unlearning bad habits. “It actually takes more effort to unwind a bad habit and it does to form a good one. A lot of times when we’re doing something positive, we want to talk to people about it. We feel a lot of positive momentum and energy, and we don’t always feel that way. But when unlearning bad habits, people don’t get a lot of positive momentum around it because they don’t feel good about it and might even feel shame. So they don’t get a lot of positive reinforcement, which makes it very hard — but still doable. One of the hacks you can do is take positive behavior to replace the old, and that gets you doing something different. It’s saying, ‘Instead of doing this, I’m going to do this,’ and sometimes people line it up. If you’re addicted to watching TV, start watching it while you’re on the treadmill. Reward yourself. Go ahead and stream Game of Thrones, but do it while you’re on your Peloton. You can kind of come up with this weird mix of taking the bad temptations and aligning them with the good behaviors until the good behaviors kick in.”
31:16 – Mornings are key to productivity. “Morning is when you get up from a scientific energy standpoint. So, if you work the night shift and you get up at two o’clock in the afternoon, that’s when you’re going to have the most mental energy to say ‘yes’ to what you said that you’re going to do, and ‘no’ to everything else. And over a lifetime, the ability to just do it — not even do it well — is going to add up and be exponential over time. That is one of the secret recipes: do it in the morning. Do it while there are fewer distractions. If everybody else is sleeping, nobody’s texting you, calling you, and your Slack channel is blank. There’s very little else on your mind, so there are fewer distractions to say ‘no’ to. You have all the energy to say ‘yes,’ and frankly, you can have an amazing day before 8 AM and then show up at work.”
36:34 – The truth about balance. “Balance is not a destination. When I’m public speaking and I’m in a room with a bunch of people, I’ll often ask people to stand up on one foot. And I’ll say, ‘Great. Are you balanced? Are you balancing?’ and everybody’s like, ‘I’m balancing.’ I’m like, thank you. It’s a verb. It’s not a noun. There is not this place where you get everything in your life organized. There is not a destination where I’m in balance and everything’s great. You have to do it, and it’s an active thing.”
47:10 – The advantage of understanding your purpose. “Over four and a half years, we studied musicians, artists, athletes, business people, and businesses — all of these different disciplines. What we saw is that the ones that really had a sense of mission and that understood their purpose had an amazing advantage over everyone else. When you understand your purpose, it gives you a clear sense of priority. You know where you’re going. That sense of direction gives us a sense of priority, and the reality we believe is when you’re acting regularly in your priorities, you tend to be as productive as you possibly can be. Business after business and individual after individual, when you see someone following that pattern, they get that foundation, and they understand, ultimately, why the business exists, and why they were meant to run it. That’s a heavy question, but you can get there. Then, their priorities became amazingly clear, and they became incredibly productive.”
52:07 – What does being a game changer mean to you? “One of my core values, my path to figuring out my purpose, was to identify the three things that I really am hedging most of my decisions on. For me, it’s family, impact, and abundance. I don’t want to choose to do things that take me away from my family. I know that when I violate that, I’m not a happy person and I have regrets. My number two is impact, and I want to have an impact. I think our legacy is going to be about how we helped others. I am a capitalist, and I like to think I’m a capitalist with a heart. I love entrepreneurialism, and I believe in abundance. That’s got to do with having more things, but I also like to give it away. I want to have an impact.”
EPISODE RESOURCES & REFERENCES
The ONE Thing by Jay Papasan
Keller Williams Realty
Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Game of Thrones
W. Edward Deming
Willpower Doesn’t Work by Ben Hardy
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
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