Family Matters: How to Teach The ONE Thing to Your Family

Chasing our ONE Thing isn’t a solo sport – it takes a team to win. From mentors to accountability partners, love interests to spouses, we need to surround ourselves with people who actively help us grow in order to find success.

Of all the relationships that support our goals, none may be more important than our family.

Incorporating what you’ve learned through The ONE Thing into your life doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. In fact, teaching Goal Setting to the Now, the GPS, and how to do a 4-1-1 to your family members (even the littlest ones) can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

But don’t take our word for it—listen to what those in our ONE Thing community have to say about their own experiences.

Broadway Bound

Nicole Heffernan stumbled onto The ONE Thing by happenstance; she heard people recommend it, and happened to find a copy in an airport bookstore. As she sat on a plane, she started reading. And reading. And reading.

For a mom with a new business venture, the book was compelling. So much so that, upon returning home, she shared what she’d read with her then ten-year-old son, Cooper, who immediately took to the ideas.

“So, of course my mom starts learning about The ONE Thing on her trip,” he said in an interview. “And then she comes back and she tells me all about it. And I just think ‘Wow that’s really inspiring. That’s really cool.’ So, I was like ‘hey how can I do this?”

He was hooked, and the two of them immediately sat down so they could start mapping out a GPS for Cooper’s big goal: be on Broadway by the time he was 12.

The GPS is a process that allows us to set a specific goal along and organize the priorities and strategies we need to achieve it. (Read more about it here) Nicole and Cooper sat and talked things out: What were his top three priorities? How would he set about achieving them? How would he track it all? How could Nicole help?  He knew he needed to stay physically fit, mentally fit, and be more purposeful with his free time. Before long, Cooper had his own GPS that he could use to set up a 411 for the year.

When we asked how they maintained his momentum, Nicole said, “We talk about goals, his Why, his self-imposed limiting beliefs on a very regular basis.” Asking questions to keep them both engaged also became an important part of their goal setting process.

“I also started a process of asking him, ‘On a scale of 1-10 how was X?’ For example, your day at school, your audition, your dance class, etc. Then once he answers … I ask ‘What could have made it a 10?’ and then ‘What do you think you could have done differently to help this be better?’”

Or she’d ask for him to project himself out into the future so he could begin building who he wanted to become, “It’s New Year’s Eve 2019 and you tell me this was the best year of your life? Why? What happened that made it the best? How do you feel?”

For Nicole, an important part of incorporating The ONE Thing into her family meant taking time to make sure her son understood that the attitude and energy he brings to the table can change the outcome of what happens each day. It’s a way of helping him grasp the concept of accountability, despite his age.

They also took time to implement daily habits that would aid them both in accomplishing their goals. For instance, they created a daily gratitude game where they’d go back and forth naming things they were grateful for while playing a song that made them happy.

“It’s become pretty addicting and I truly believe [it] has changed the way I parent,” she said.

That was back in February of 2018.

Over the next year, Cooper worked hard. He maintained grades, lost 12 lbs., and made it to his first Broadway audition. Fast forward to today: he’s created a GPS for the new year and is hoping to audition again and get a role. Creating a GPS for her son has also helped Nicole. Knowing what her son wants, along with his hopes and dreams, helps her incorporate activities into their lives that will supplement their goals. She can make smarter choices for herself and her son that keep them on track for their weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.

She summed up the benefits by saying, “I believe by having that conversation the GPS fills itself in and before the kids realize it they have a blue print to their dreams.”

It’s safe to say that’s something everyone wants for their children. And it all came from asking a few, powerful questions.

Takeaway: The Power of Questions

In The ONE Thing, we stress the importance of questions because answers matter. As we say in the book, “…life is a question and how we live it is our answer.”

Questions are incredible tools, and when we ask ourselves and those around us the right questions, we can stumble upon some truly extraordinary answers. From the focusing question to “On a scale from 1-10, how was X?” – questions can have an incredible impact on our lives. They help us focus, find clarity, and think about things in new ways.

If you’re struggling to share The ONE Thing with those around you, asking the most important people in our lives the right questions is sometimes the best thing we can do for them. Instead of demanding they incorporate a habit or try something new, it allows them to contemplate and come to their own conclusions. That way, they’ll be the ones taking ownership of their own journeys by finding their own answers.

Whether it’s a child who yearns to tread the boards, or a spouse who wants to start their own business, figuring out what we want and how to get there can be challenging. A lot of the time, we find out what we want through a process of trial and error. Asking the right questions, however, can sometimes save us some time and effort.

Questions help us dissect things. They help us break larger problems down into tiny solutions and outcomes. Instead of wondering how to do one BIG thing, they allow us to single out the smaller, easier to tackle things that can line us up to knock down our next domino.

If it turns out you didn’t really know what you wanted to begin with—breaking down your goals prevents you from going in too deep before you figure that out.

Planning Together

For Holli McCray, living The ONE Thing started with her business. As a business owner, she had a lot of different hats to wear and goals she wanted to accomplish. She began incorporating what she’d learned from the book into her business practices and, over time, that had a halo effect on other aspects of her life.

As she put it, “When you start creating those habits, you bring those habits home with you.”

So, she began to incorporate things at home that she used for her business: creating good habits, taking 66-day challenges, and making sure her life had structure, so she could accomplish what she needed to do each day. She hung a white board in her home office to keep track of her 66-day challenges, weekly deadlines and goals.

At the time, her son Cade was around 7 or 8 years old, but what his mother was doing was already making an impression. “My mom, she started dropping subtle hints… I’m thinking, ‘Wow this is actually really good, where’d she come up with this?’”

In particular, Cade was taken with the idea that willpower is not always on will call.

By the time he was in 6th and 7th grade, he had begun incorporating that concept into his own life, replicating what he was seeing his own parents doing.

“Use what you have wisely throughout the day,” she said in an interview. ”Don’t push everything out there and try to get everything out at once. Focus on one thing you can do well and use some willpower to get that done. Then focus on another thing, use willpower to get that done. And it just goes on from there… When I used [willpower] like it was a finite resource, I usually got more work done, more homework done, started eating less than I used to (cause I could eat like a horse). My life got a lot better when I learned that fact.”

Now, Cade uses what he’s learned from his mother in his daily life to build habits that help him stay on track to get things done. Like his mother, he created a white board with 66 boxes on it to keep track of his chores for the day. He charts out his homework assignments, when each one is due, and when he needs to start each assignment to get everything done on time. He’s started going to bed early so he can wake up in the morning and finish boxing by 5 am — all while maintaining good grades and staying on the honor roll.

For his mom, these seemingly small changes are signs of something significantly greater. “Right now he’s building his future success.” Knocking over the first of many dominoes early in his life sets him up for success as he grows.

Takeaway: Live Something to Teach Something

Practicing what you preach is a very well-known idiom for a reason. While it’s important to share the things we learn with those around us, sometimes one of the best ways to show people how to do something is to make like Nike and Just Do It.

When we embody the ideas we’re trying to instill in others, we’re creating a model for those around us. This is crucial for children in particular because we’re often the person our children are modeling themselves after. For better or worse, all of our habits – good and bad – influence our children.

We can’t expect kids to be happy about doing chores if we moan our way through our own. We can’t expect kids to live structured lives if we don’t have any structure in our own. Instead, we need to embody the things we want our children to achieve. By taking the time to live our ideals, we become the model for other’s lives.

Next time you’re wanting to encourage your child to take tasks more seriously – show them what that looks like. Show them the ways you schedule out your day, share your own struggles and challenges with them, help them see the very real ways you work hard to make sure your goals are attainable. It doesn’t have to be a large lesson. It can be as simple as hanging a white board in your office or making sure you’re on time for appointments.

It’s the common wisdom of our time that, eventually, we all become our parents. Instead of wasting time trying to make your kid the person you want them to be, focus on making sure you’re the person you would want them to become.

My 66-Day Challenge Calendar

Discover how to form your first power habit with the 66-Day Challenge Calendar

The ONE Thing

The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results By Gary Keller and Jay Papasan (Hard Cover)

Get the Book Now