#275 First Things First

Second Things? Not at All

One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “First Things First.” He also wrote a whole book by the same name.

But you know where he got that phrase?

Peter Drucker.

It was Drucker who said “Put first things first.”

And you know what he said we should do with “second things.” He said we should ignore them. Specifically, he said, “First things first — and second things not at all.” (He also said, “If there is one ‘secret’ of effectiveness, it is concentration. Effective executives do first things first and they do one thing at a time.”)

Fact is, in any given moment there is only ONE most important thing to do. And, that’s what the best among us do. Over and over and over and over and over again.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to executives. How about one of the greatest athletes of all time, Michael Phelps. Phelps is the most decorated Olympian in history. Over the span of five Olympics (which, in itself, is an epic achievement), he won 28 medals — 23 of them gold. (Wow.)

In his great book No Limits, he tells us about one of the secrets to his success he learned from his coach Bob Bowman.

It’s a very simple question that happens to form a powerful word: What’s important now?


What’s important now? Micro WIN.

How about now? Micro WIN.

And now? Micro WIN.

Over and over and over and over again.

He created little micro wins all day every day during his training and before his races. And, well, those micro wins added up to a TON of Big Wins.


How about that as a guiding question for you today?

What’s important now?

To be clear: This doesn’t mean working all the time or obsessively grinding in any aspect of our lives. It means seeing the big picture and knowing when the most important thing is NOT working but, rather, turning off your technology so you can connect with your family or your higher self.

That’s TRUE Winning.

Remember: First things first. Second things? Not at all.