Crafting a Lifestyle

The flag, the one thing, and good old checklists

This morning, my workout was:

  • leg press
  • chest-supported dumbbell rows
  • floor dumbbell presses
  • 45 degree back extensions
  • 1 arm cable rows

I had this written into a nifty little exercise information keeper app on my phone. Before heading to the gym, I sat on the edge of my bed and visualized every movement in its best form. I visualized myself getting through each set, pressing past the discomfort. I looked up a video on the proper form for one of the exercises, so I knew I’d do it well.

Then, I biked to the gym and got the work done. I started at move 1, did the work, went to move 2. And so on.

But what makes this work? How did I shift from being sedentary and not all that interested in my fitness, into turning the whole ship around?

I found a flag.

The Flag

In this case, the “flag” is “that which draws us to work and fight towards something bigger than us. Just wanting to lose weight isn’t a flag. It’s something you can discard. My flag? I want to make the best possible model of health for my kids, and I want to shape my body into something that will convey the conviction I have in all my other pursuits. That’s my flag. Doesn’t have to be yours (can’t be yours). But that’s what I set in the ground to make sure I do the work that needs doing.

Now that’s my personal flag. I’m reworking my business flag as we speak, and the experience has been amazing. Because I need others to embrace that flag. I need to be sure that they see themselves in its “colors” so to speak. But without the flag, there’s no reason to do anything bigger. Make sense?

But what does that look like daily.

The One Thing

I’m a wee bit obsessed with a new idea that I plugged out of a GQ article with Robert Downey Jr. It was simple, really. He just said that he doesn’t think about the past or the future. He just plays the ball that’s directly in front of him. He works on that one thing.

I edited the mindset just a hair. It’s easy to put STUPID things in front of you. So I’ve added a list of great one things. That way, I just work through my list of “one things” and I know that if I do that and not worry about the past or the future, I’ll get further ahead.

This change, this adherence to the one thing concept, has changed my business over the last 10 days more than anything else has over the last six months. That one simple truth.

And yet, will you do it? Would you stop flailing all over the place, stop multitasking, and commit to working on one thing at a time, one thing that moves you closer to that flag?


Old fashioned checklists. On paper. That’s the other ingredient. I write down little paper checklists that help me put success in my way (stole that line from Rob Hatch). And when I work from my checklists, I get a ton more done. I don’t overload them. I never put “maybe” stuff on them, never “future” stuff. I put “one thing” stuff, stuff that moves me closer to my flag.

You Make the Systems

Or you flail. It’s as simple as that. Whatever’s going to work for you will come out of you formalizing your system just a little more than what you’re doing now. Or you’ll keep wondering why others keep getting tons more done while you seem always to be too busy. Here’s a secret: everybody’s too busy until they learn how not to be.

Do the work.

Chris Brogan is CEO of Human Business Works, where he’s working on equipping you to win the Personal Business Revolution.