I frequently hear the words “key”, “secret”, and “everything” thrown around with reckless abandon. And yes, they’re mainly used for marketing purposes, but let’s take a look at the definitions:

Key – of paramount or crucial importance

Secret – something that is or is kept secret, hidden, or concealed

Everything – all things of importance; the most important thing or aspect

I understand completely that the allure is extremely strong to use hyperbolic words to promulgate ideas. Even one of my favorite books isn’t immune: “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything“.

I think a more accurate presentation is to use the word “vital”.

Vital – of critical importance

Think of the human body. Since we have a number of organs, take the brain for example. You could say since it’s “everything” because without it, we die. But you could also say the same for the heart. As you probably already know, this is why they’re referred to as “vital organs”. The brain, heart, lungs, etc are crucially important. But one is not more important than the others in sustaining life, they’re all important. They are all “vital”, but none of them are “everything”.

In the same way, teamwork isn’t “everything”, but it’s definitely “vital”. The same goes for work ethic, focus, planning, etc. There are many many skills and areas that are vital (although some aren’t in actuality).

So instead of saying something is a “key”, just say that it’s vital; important, but just a part of the whole story. In fact, there’s only one single thing that I could say is actually “everything”, and that’s causality. But that’s for another post.