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What's Your One Thing for 2016?

The closing of one year presents the promise of a new year. It’s a great time to reflect, to celebrate accomplishments, and to set new goals for the future. The holidays provide a little quiet time to reflect on our work and ourselves. Common questions include: Did we meet personal and organizational goals? Did we hit our fundraising targets? What impact did we have on those we serve? 

These are perfectly good questions, but this year I was introduced to a new question that has proven to be quite powerful–personally and professionally. 

In Gary Keller’s book entitled, “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results,” he suggests that the quality of any answer is directly determined by the quality of the question. I love well-crafted questions! In fact, I’m a collector of questions. This makes me think of the old adage as it relates to collecting relevant data, “garbage in, garbage out.” 


The wrong questions will lead to bad data and decision-making. Without quality questions to guide our reflection, we likely won’t be able to measure intended results. Gary challenges us to consider the following question:

What’s the one thing I can do/ such that by doing it/ everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

 The question breaks down like this:

  • The first part of the question is designed to spark focused action. What is the one thing you can do—for your organization, for your family, for your team, for your finances, etc. No hedging your bets. Choose one thing, and one thing only.
  • The second part is a bridge between doing something, and doing something for a specific purpose. Be intentional and act with purpose.
  • And finally, what will become irrelevant or unnecessary by doing your one thing? This part of the question is designed to provide a filter to help you leverage your actions and avoid distractions.

The OAC’s Innovation and Engagement team has been using this question for the last few months as a guide for our work. While difficult at first, it now serves as a guide to keep us working at our highest and most important level. I challenge you to use this question as you begin 2016. In what ways might the answers help you be more productive and effective in the new year?

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Christy Farnbauch, Inovation and Engagement Director
Video by The ONE Thing Book

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