Monthly Archive: May 2012

Curly’s Law

I got something amazing out of the movie “City Slickers” and this is a thing that I later came to see being referred to as “Curly’s Law“. Curly was the tough old tough cowboy character played by the late Jack Palance. Curly’s Law states simply this: Do One Thing!

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
       This. [holds up one finger]

Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.
Mitch: But what is the “one thing”?
Curly: [smiles] That’s what you have to find out.

Now that little nugget of wisdom is so simple that I dare say I’ve watched that movie more than once – unconventional source that it may come from – there is enough power in that little statement to change the world, and to make the difference between achieving your dreams or not.

When you discover what your overall One Thing is in your life, you will then find it easier to identify your lesser things, or if you like, your sub-things. For example, underneath your major One Thing might come four headings “family”, “career”, “health” and “hobby” (you might have more headings, or different ones – it’s just an example). And each of those could be broken down into smaller and smaller subsections, like in a family tree or the random company employee-structure diagram.

And you can keep breaking these things down until you get to the level of your daily To Do List. And here’s where the power of Curly’s Law really kicks in on a couple of levels.

Firstly, as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart said: “The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.” That should keep you focused on what you want to do now, today, this week, etc.

Secondly, you will know that everything that is on your To Do List is congruous with your One Major Thing, and that if it’s not, then you should just shaft that thing out of your life.

Thirdly, when you are doing anything, JUST DO THAT ONE THING. Think about it, when you are doing something that you enjoy so much that you are absorbed in the ‘flow’ of what you are doing, to the exclusion of everything else that is there to distract you. Don’t you feel at peace?

Simplicity brings peace because it eliminates tension. Complexity causes tension. The cowboy said it, genious Mozart said it, and management guru Peter Drucker said it.