Your one big thing

A short sharing of what is one big thing between “What am I supposed to do with my life?” and “How do I get noticed in a hyper-competitive, cluttered and distracted world?”

One big thing (OBT) video –


Hi, my name is Wan. I am a coach based in Singapore. In this session. I’m going to share with you a concept. It is called one big thing based on my personal experiences and professional experiences. I will first share about OBT? What it is not. Third, why OBT? Why we would need to pay attention. Last but not least, some suggestions and tips based on my personal experiences and professional experiences.

Before that, let me share with you my career journey. After college, my first job was a software developer. Then I got an opportunity to be a practitioner in Agile. For Agile, you can consider it as a way of getting things done through teams. The third stage of my career is being a professional coach. So it’s very clear at the moment, there are 3 stages of my career. For the first stage, the motivation behind is very clear. Since I was very young, from 12 years old, I was interested in computers and therefore it was my first choice to study Computer Science. And being involved as a professional in the computer industry. The second transition is not so clear. As a senior software architect, I was given an opportunity to be a part-time Scrum Master. So I took the opportunity to try to be a Scrum Master without any training and with some guidance from seniors. As I progressed as a Scrum Master, I have encountered many challenges and issues. I have started to find other ways to help myself. One of the decisions I have made is to attend a professional coaching course. And I find that it helped me a lot as a Scrum Master especially in helping my team members to grow. And as I perfected, what helped me to transit being an Agile practitioner to being a professional coach? Through the help of my teacher and mentor, Michael, into my self reflection, I found out in each stage of my career, there is a question I’m trying to seek, to answer. The first question is how computers work, which is very clear and straight-forward. The second question in my second stage of my career is how Scrum works. I was given the opportunity to learn and practice a framework called Scrum. So that helped me to go deeper and to find solutions for the issues I had encountered. In the third stage, as I work with more people and team members, one question comes up a lot. How do humans work? What helped him to behave, to make a decision. And here it is a simple introduction of my career journey. And you may wonder, what is my one big thing? As I reflected back, my interest in finding the solution, the answer and therefore at this moment, my one big thing is finding the truth. I may not find the truth. And I enjoy a lot in the process of finding the truth. So the intention is on finding the truth.

All right. Let’s share a bit of what is one big thing. Before that there’s a concept I would like to share with you. In our awareness onion, there are at least three layers. In the first layer, what am I experiencing, e.g feeling? In the second layer is why this feeling? Third layer is the why behind the why. So to use my career journey as an example. Obviously, you can observe my transition to be a professional coach. And what’s behind the transition to be a professional coach? And my reason is to find out how humans work. And what’s behind that reason? And based on my current understanding, I’m passionate about finding the truth. And here is what one big thing is.

According to the author, Phil Cooke, in his book “One Big Thing. Discovering What You Were Born to Do”, he offered two prompts. The first one is “What am I supposed to do with my life?” And the second prompt is “How do I get noticed in a hyper-competitive, cluttered and distracted world?” And the overlapping area is one big thing, OBT. So you can see that this idea and concept seems familiar. And I’d like to share a bit about what it is not. OBT is related to personal value. And it’s more than that. It is also more than mission and purpose. Because that is effectively considering how to stand out in a busy world. Obviously it is more than goals. It is also not about destiny and my true self because there is a concern how the world perceives ourselves. And just to repeat, OBT is a combination or an overlapping area between two questions : (1) What am I supposed to do in my life? (2) How do I get notice in a noisy world? And why I think the noise will keep us for a very obvious reason. We have too many interests. Maybe we have shorter time and lots of distractions. To be effective and impactful, he suggests we need to find our One Big Thing(OBT).

And what are some ways for us to find our one big thing? And my suggestion is ask yourself this question “What is behind your decision when there are no external consequences?”   When I refer to an external consequence, I’m referring to external reward, external factors like pressure, persuasion, influence. If you are staying true to yourself, what is behind that decision, that behaviour and that value? And if you can repeat this 5 times, you may find out your one big thing. And in the journey, it helps to record down your observations, your feelings and your reflection in the journal. In the process of discovering your OBT, I will share 3 additional tips. Start now and iterate. It doesn’t make sense to be regretful. Why didn’t you start earlier at any stage? Start now and reflect on your experience. And ask that prompt : what is behind your decision if there’s no external consequence? And iterate. We may not find our OBT in the first try. Or even the next 10 tries. And we need to keep going. Iterate. Second tip sounds very obvious : be true to yourself. Because only when we are true to ourselves, we can ignore the effects of external consequences. And I don’t mean what we can perceive and think of. We need to be true to our emotions. What helps us to feel happy, honoured and purposeful? And remember, in the beginning, three levels of awareness. That’s why I suggest you ask the prompt, What’s behind you decision, 5 times? And to avoid the fall into the trap of destiny, or true self, be a better self in each iteration. I believe everyone can grow as demonstrated in my career journey, my professional journey. With the new capabilities, we might be able to see your one big thing in a clearer picture. And there is a bonus : avoid being our own enemy. And what I mean is in the journey of discovery, there will be voices of disapproval, especially those coming from ourselves, our saboteurs. And there’s also danger in black and white thinking. That means if I’m like A, I can’t be B. It is possible that we can generalise the idea of A and B to a higher level. And what if you were interested to go deeper in your journey of finding your OBT. I would like to recommend you to refer to the book by Phil Cooke, “One Big Thing. Discovering What You Were Born to Do”. I will highlight a few chapters that you would like to pay some attention to : the power of values, it’s never too late, it’s not about you. Is it possible your call for a thing beyond yourself? And last but not least, if you need some assistance, schedule a discovery call. Here is the link. Thank you. Thank you for your attention.

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