Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing – Always

The country is getting back to work. We are getting back to work. And there is so much to do. It is easy to get distracted by the abundance of “little things” that have been piling up for a year. Our most important task is to stay on task, meaning: Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing – Always.

Award-winning screenwriter and playwright James Goldman had to remind himself to keep the main thing the main thing. When he went out on the road with a play, he placed a piece of paper somewhere in his hotel room—on the dresser or the bathroom mirror—that would remind him of his purpose: “What is this play about?”

Why did Goldman need reminding? Why do we need reminding? Because it’s easy to get distracted.  In theater and business, we’re surrounded by talented and creative people who are often struck with a brilliant idea. It doesn’t take much for someone’s humorous quip to have everyone rolling with laughter.

As a leader, sometimes it’s your job to harness that creative power and let ideas grow and change.

But often, it’s your job to remember “what is this play about” (or meeting, project, product, etc.). When I directed a play, it was never my role to make it the funniest or silliest ever produced, but it was my responsibility to keep the main purpose of the play in front of me: To keep the main thing the main thing.

The task is often thankless, and they’ll beg you to keep in a creative, silly, or fun idea. When you’re faced with distractions that don’t enhance the main thing, do the hard thing and take it out. This is where a great leader will earn their money: knowing the difference between heading down the proper path versus wandering off into a dangerous distraction. There will be so many little things that cry for our attention as we get back to work so, find a way to keep the reminder in front of you; Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing – Always.

What can help?

  • Make a list and prioritize that list: Making sure you know what the “main thing” is.
  • Share the list so everyone is aware of the same “main thing.” Focus first on those actions that will benefit your project and yourself.
  • Delegate your distractions.
  • Keep a physical reminder in front of you asking: “What is this _____ about?”

Phillip J Martin

Exploring the Power of People

You succeed by choice, not chance.
Every decision you make shapes your future

Phil is a published playwright and song writer and an award-winning television writer for the Nashville Now show on TNN. He has spent 30 years as a college professor, most recently in the Department of Theatre Arts at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. He has presented at colleges, universities, conventions and symposiums across the country. In addition to writing 13 musicals, Phil has written two books: Play Hard-Have Fun: A Philosophy for Life and the soon-to-be completed Take the Stage: Leadership Lesson from Theatre. Phil believes that achieving personal and professional success requires the challenge of creative and innovative thinking, that you succeed by choice, not chance.

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