Tag Archive | One Thing

Thinker 7

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“If you were to express one thing as art – x as Art –, that thing which best captures who you are, what would it be?”

Thinking as Art.

Or, expressed as a directive,

Think beautiful.

Everything in our life is an outgrowth of our thinking. 

Thinking shapes reality. 

Thinking, and by extension, our beautiful BodyMind is the most powerful tool we will ever possess. 

I’ve dedicated my life to mastering it.”

The Non-Zero Progress Principle

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the non-zero progress principle?”

“It’s a brilliant little principle I know from Darius Foroux [<link] – one of my favorite people. 

Do one thing every day that helps you move toward your most important goal.

It’s basically two principles into one:

Consistent Action – Consistent daily action compounds [<link; short read].

Efficient Action – Focus on the highest-leverage things, one at a time.”

“Weren’t you already doing that?”

“I was taking consistent action, but not efficient action. Darius’s principle helped me see the error of my ways.”

One Rep

Learn the macro from the micro. (Josh Waitzkin)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I internalize quality?”

Always focus on one quality rep.

Internalize that every rep is the most important rep.

If you think ‘I’m doing 5 reps’, you’re focusing on the outcome.
Shift focus to the process.

‘I’m doing one quality rep.’

If you’re not successful, try again,
and again, and again,
until you get one.

If you’re successful, do another quality rep.
Then another. Then another.

You may reach 5, or not.
It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you’re prioritizing quality over quantity.

You’re learning the macro – the Quality principle – from the micro – every little rep.”

The most important principle of learning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the most important principle of learning?”

“Is it feedback?”

“Indeed, without feedback, no learning is possible. 
However if you don’t act on the feedback, no learning occurs.
And if you don’t process the feedback, you can’t act on it.”

“Reminds me of Ray Dalio’s five-step process: 

I turned it into a model which I call Problem/Diagnosis/Design.”

“That is the very structure of a learning cycle. I phrase it differently:

Reflection (Understanding)
Design (Implementation, Optimization)

But, in essence, it’s the same thing.”

“Is learning cycles the most important principle of learning?”

“I always like to remind myself that we don’t know what we don’t know.

What matters is that it has beautiful practical application.”

Beautiful Models: One Thing

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the One Thing model?”

“It’s essentially a filtering model.

Let’s say you have a number of items which you want to evaluate for usefulness. According to the Pareto Principle (80/20), 20% of those items are responsible for 80% of the output. By applying the principle multiple times – identifying the 20% of the 20% of the 20% etc. – you’re eventually left with one thing.

When it comes to your life, you can use the One Thing as a framework for gaining clarity on various aspects of your life, big and small.

You have a big One Thing – your Purpose, your Ikigai, your guiding star.
You have lots of smaller One Things, for every aspect of your life.

The framework is like a questionnaire you’re creating for yourself, each question corresponding to a small One Thing.

I like to do it using templates [<link; medium read].

MIx (Most Important x)

MIT (Most Important Thing)
MIQ (Most Important Question)

MIV (Most Important Value)
MIS (Most Important Skill)
MIP (Most Important Practice)
MIR (Most Important Relationship)

Most important life-system
Most important life-game
Most important possession

#1 x (Number One x)

#1 Identity-Block
#1 Soul Quest
#1 Self-Care Practice
#1 Hero

#1 Creative Ritual
#1 Energy Ritual
#1 Flow Trigger

Biggest x

Biggest Strength
Biggest Weakness
Biggest Obstacle

Favorite x

Favorite type of Flow
Favorite Book

Favorite Place

I have a special document with the questionnaire. Whenever I come up with a new question, I add it to the document.”

Your One Word

There is One Word that defines who you are. One Word that connects all the things in your life that make you come alive. (Evan Carmichael)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is Your One Word?”

“It’s a beautiful idea I know from Evan Carmichael’s book with the same name. An extension of the One Thing mental model.

It’s basically the idea of condensing everything you stand for, your life philosophy and your Purpose – your reason for getting up in the morning, your Ikigai – into one word.

Evan makes the point that it’s not only useful for yourself – as a powerful mantra-word –, but also for communicating it to others. What’s inspiring for you can also inspire others.”

“What is your One Word?”

My One Word is Beautify.

I’ve had clues about it in my own writings for some time.

For instance:

‘How can I know when I’m on the Beautiful Path?’

You can SEE the breathtaking Beauty in the fabric of the everyday.


Such a beautiful day.

Every day is beautiful, you just can’t see it all the time.


Why are you doing x?

I’m expressing myself.

You’re thinking small.

Express yourself though your LIVING.
Make your WHOLE LIFE a Creative Act,
Make your WHOLE LIFE a Work of Art.



I know, but I keep forgetting it.

This too is part of the Game.

Evan’s book was the catalyst that brought them all together.


Notice Beauty. It’s everywhere around you, if your Heart is open.

Appreciate Beauty. See every instance of Beauty for the Gift that it is.

Create Beauty. Always, in all ways.

Now, and forever.

Make your life / today / this moment a work of art. [Levels of Magnification]

Live a creative life. (Robert Rodriguez)

Maximize each moment’s creative potential. (Josh Waitzkin)

Make an art of everything you do.
Always do your best.

Make a game of everything you do.

The word means all those things, and many many more.

My One Word

Remember your why

Your mind will be like its habitual thoughts; for the soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts. (Marcus Aurelius)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Know your why.”

“To that I’d add:

Remember your why. 

Moment to moment to moment. Especially in difficult moments.

It’s not enough to have something stored in your mind. You need to constantly access it. Accessing it is a practice.

Imagine the information in your mind represented as a heat map.

Heat map

Less accessed information is cooler, more accessed information is hotter. Your why should be one of the hottest spots on the map.

I like to make a distinction between the big why – your Purpose, your Ikigai, your One Thing – and the small whys.

Align all your small whys with the big why.

On Peak Performance 3

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“One of my favorite mental models was inspired by one of my favorite books: The One Thing, by Gary Keller.

I called the model One Thing.

I like to express the model as a template [<link; medium read]:

MIx (Most Important x)

MIT (Most Important Thing)
MIQ (Most Important Question)
MIP (Most Important Practice)
MIG (Most Important Goal)
MIR (Most Important Relationship)
MIV (Most Important Value)

MIT (Most Important Thing)

This is the main idea in Gary Keller’s book. For maximum efficiency, you need to focus your efforts on one thing at a time. This applies to both the macro and the micro level.

In Gary Keller’s words:

Time and energy are limited. For maximum output, it takes subtraction not addition. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect. 


Success is built sequentially, one thing at a time.

MIQ (Most Important Question)

The same thing applies to questions as well. For maximum efficiency, you need to focus on one major question at a time.”

“Reminds me of a quote by Karl Popper:

The best thing that can happen to a human being is to find a problem, to fall in love with that problem, and to live trying to solve that problem, unless another problem even more lovable appears.

“I love that quote.

MIP (Most Important Practice)

I also find it useful to gain clarity on what the most important practice is. The practice that impacts all other practices. The default practice I can automatically turn to whenever my skies are cloudy and I cannot think clearly.”

“What is the most important practice for you?”

“You may recall, we’ve spoken a while ago [<link; medium read] about Alan Watkins’s model of peak performance. 


The idea that, in order to be brilliant every single day, not just once in a while, you need to address all levels of the pyramid.

I’ve been playing a lot with the model, to integrate in my own practice. The latest iteration looks like this:

My Peak Performance Map

My most important practice is Presence.

Presence is an essential aspect of my most important goal, which is to have a Beautiful Body/Heart/Mind. This is my vision of Self-Mastery. Endlessly perfecting my capacity to move, feel, and think.

Expressed as archetypal identity-models, I strive to become a Warrior/Saint/Sage.”

On Learning 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I think it’s important to have a visual map that acts as a guiding star for your Learning at a macro level and constantly reminds you of where you’re going.”

“What does yours look like?”

“Like this:

My Learning-Map

They’re much more interconnected, but that would make the map less legible.

My One Thing I want to master in this life is Thinking. I want to become a Super Thinker, to discover the limits of my potential. The way I like to describe it is as developing a ‘Beautiful Mind’.

The four main areas of development form a tetrad:


What you see in pink on the map is the One Thing I’m focusing on in each area:

Presence: Embodiment
Thinking: Learning/Teaching (Meta-Learning – learning how to learn)
Feeling: Empathy (Emotions)
Moving: Breathing

Learning/Teaching is my macro-focus, as this is the highest-leverage thinking skill one can learn.

I’m not focusing exclusively on these. I’m just dedicating them most time.”

“How come Writing is not on the map?”

“I consider Writing an integral part of Thinking. To a large extent, I think in writing.”

“How do you structure your learning day?”

“Structurally, my daily Deep-Work has two parts: one fixed, and one variable.

The fixed part has several ‘slots’.

The first is a writing-slot. This is what I start every single day with.
The second is a learning-slot dedicated to Meta-Learning.
The third is a learning-slot dedicated to Connection. This is the area of my life I struggle with most.
The fourth is for something important that I need to get done. I’m currently looking for a job, so I dedicate this slot to jobbing.

This marks the end of the fixed part of the day.

The variable part changes every day. I select what to learn next at random, from a variety of topics of interest to me. This is exciting because I never know what I’m going to be learning that day. One day I may be learning about NLP, another about Design, another about History, or Movement, or Mental Models, or whatnot.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

I am a Tool-Maker.

“What do you mean?”

“As you know, my One Thing I want to master in this life – and my greatest Passion – is Thinking [<link; medium length]. There are two aspects to it:

Creating optimal conditions for it, through Energy Management and Emotion Management.

Creating persistent structures in the mind – metaphoric tools of the mind – for optimally performing its many operations.

Knowledge is not enough. It is the mental-tools you have and how you use them that determine the quality of your Thinking. 

I collect mental-tools through my Learning. However, more importantly, I create my own. I am a Designer and Innovator.

The most important tools are meta-tools – tool-making tools.”