What’s Going to Move Your Needle?

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Options, options, too many options!

Don’t you feel like that sometimes?

·      Which of these hundred mayonnaises should I buy?

·      Which of these hundred TV series should I Netflix?

·      Which of these hundred Kardashians should I ignore?

For those of us fortunate enough to live in the developed world, we’re faced with a mind-boggling number of options every day. But, for the moment, let’s leave mayonnaise, Netflix, and the Kardashians out of it.

Let’s just focus on business.

Whether you’re a solopreneur, a team leader in a larger organization, or a corporate CEO, you have to answer the same question at each moment of your day:

What should I be doing with my time right now?

That’s a deceptively difficult question. Why? Because, at any given moment, there are probably a dozen or more things you could do—each of which would be completely justifiable. (We’ll leave aside the hundreds of non-justifiable options….)

So, how do you decide? You decide by answering two questions:

1.     What’s my needle?

2.     What action will move my needle the most—right now?

Let’s take a quick look at these two questions.

What’s my needle?

Notice that the word is “needle,” not “needles.” There are any number of measures that a leader uses to determine the health of his or her business. Gross income, net income, number of units sold, number of Twitter followers. The list goes on and on. As a leader, though, you have to decide on the one. What is the one measure that sits above all the others? What is the one measure that feeds all the others? That’s your needle.

I’m a professional speaker. My measures include: number of speeches given, number of speeches booked, number of books sold, gross income, net income, number of marketing pieces sent out. And there are others. But for me, the one that feeds all the others is number of speeches booked. When that number is healthy, the others follow. So that’s my needle. I don’t ignore the others, but they’re secondary to this one. It’s my needle.

What’s yours?

#Leaders, what’s your needle? Share on X

What action will move my needle the most—right now?

If you’ve decided on your needle (again, singular), congratulations! You’re already ahead of the majority of leaders. And by focusing on this second question—What action will move my needle the most, right now?—you can automatically rule out the majority of your options. This means that you can now apply one of the most critical leadership traits:


You know what your needle is. Your job now—and I mean now—is to focus on what it is that will move that needle the most, in this moment! And pretty much every moment that you’re on the job.

I have a sign right above my desk that asks the question: What action will move my needle the most—right now?

What action will move your needle the most, right now? #leadership Share on X

One last note. Your needle can change. That’s because circumstances change. I can foresee a time when I won’t want to be on the road as much as I am now. At that point, my business—and my needle—will need to change. What won’t change is the importance of focusing on that second question.

So. What action will move your needle the most—right now?


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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