Have you found the “One Thing”? I have. Lots of them.
I’d found it. The One Thing. It was Microsoft Access.
Yes! No laughing at the back. Microsoft Access.
In 1997, I’d been working as a financial analyst at Chase Manhattan for three months. Every day I had to grapple with 64 Excel spreadsheets. Some were linked and some you had to copy and paste the data from one to the other. They always broke. It took ten hours to magic up figures that had errors every day. It was a nightmare until my boss’s boss dumped one of those three-inch-thick books on my desk and said, “Fancy learning Access?”
So I did. Three months later, I had one shiny new Access database, five spreadsheets, and I could publish accurate figures in two hours.
So now I’d found my One Thing. That was it. Search over.
But then I discovered VBA. Then Oracle. Then Java. Then Extreme Programming. Then Agile. Then W. Edwards Deming. Then Lean. Then Systems Thinking. Then the Viable System Model. Then Complexity. Then Editing. Then Publishing.
Did I miss any? Yes, lots. There were dozens more One Things along the way.
Now I have discovered a new One Thing.
There is no one thing. There is just another step on the path. But whereas before, scaling one peak would lead to seeing the next. I now realise that there is a whole mountain range. Some peaks are near, some far. Some lit by a bright sunbeam, some shrouded in mist.
I have abandoned my search for the One Thing. But I still get a little blip of joy when I spy another mountain to climb. It’s visiting the groups on all their mountains, learning from them and making connections that are my Many Things now.