The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results (2013)
by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan
by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan
If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either. Gary Keller writes, “We overthink, over the plan, and overanalyze our careers, our businesses, and our lives; that long hours are neither virtuous nor healthy; and that we usually succeed in spite of most of what we do, not because of it. The key to success isn’t in all the things we do, but in the handful of things we do well.” Since I read this book (this is my 3rd time already), I always ask myself these three questions: What am I passionate about? What am I good at? What gives the greatest return to others and rewards me personally? My answer is – I want to motivate and inspire others through my writing and teaching on the topics of Scriptures, leadership and creativity. These are my ONE things. I read books, attend seminars, listen to audiobooks, and invest money & time on these topics. Focus. All else is secondary to me. I learned this through Zig Ziglar too, who asserts, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
We all have 24 hours… so true. Let me quote at length here: “If everyone has the same number of hours in the day, why do some people seem to get so much more done than others? How do they do more, achieve more, earn more, have more? If time is the currency of achievement, then why are some able to cash in their allotment for more chips than others? The answer is they make getting to the heart of things the heart of their approach. They go small. Going small is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do. It’s recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most. It’s a tighter way to connect what you do with what you want. It’s realizing that extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.” In the book, Gary discusses the benefits of prioritizing one single task at a time, and also provides examples (“Success Leaves Clues”) of how to engage in those tasks with a singular focus. The examples and practical applications suggested in the book are very good and easy to understand and execute (although, you do need to have good habits to maintain the practice until it starts to have “The Domino Effect”). The book is divided into three (3) parts:
Part 1 The Lies: They Misled and Derail Us. In this part, Gary analyses the ways in which multitasking has erroneously been praised as a desirable trait. “Multitasking is a lie!” Gary also challenges the concept of work-life balance in one of the chapters A Balanced Life, calling it "idealistic, but not realistic.” In a chapter called Willpower Is Always on Will-Call, the author advise the readers to take the advantage of willpower while it still high and not to depend on it every time, “If you want to get the most out of your day, do your most important work – your ONE Thing – early, before your willpower is drawn down. Since your self-control will be sapped throughout the day, use it when it’s at full strength on what matters most.”
Part 2 The Truth: The Simple Path to Productivity. In the second part, the author deals with productivity principles like habit-building and benchmarking. For instance, Gary suggests that readers should engage in 4-hours of work on their “ONE thing” each day (This reminded me of Timothy Harris’ The 4-Hour Workweek. I recommend this book too!). “The key is over time,” writes Gary, “Success is built sequentially. It’s one thing at a time.” As economist Vilfredo Pareto puts it (this is called The Pareto Principle), focus on 20% of the effort in productivity and you’ll get 80% more of the results.
Part 3 Extraordinary Results: Unlocking the Possibilities Within You. Part 2 basically outlines the principles of The One Thing and part 3 details how to make the principles actionable. One of the concepts it illustrates is “time blocking,” which suggests that the readers should focus on only their ONE thing during a given amount of time. It also encourages that readers should schedule a time to reflect, plan, and even rest. Everything else during scheduled time blocks is characterized as a distraction. I like the three chapters on Live with Purpose, Live by Priority and Live for Productivity. “As long as you are working on your ONE thing, you’re making sure that when you’re working, you’re doing what’s most important.”
Each chapter ends with a “Big Ideas” review that gives a summary of the chapters' concepts and principles. I love the illustrations and graphics in the book and I appreciate the simplicity in presenting the ideas. Even though Gary Keller (and Jay Papasan) background is in real estate, this book is a general reading for anyone who wants to maximize their potentials and get extraordinary results. Currently, I’m reading John C. Maxwell’s Good Leaders Ask Great Questions and so, I’m on the look of great questions when I read a book. One question that always rings in my head after I finished reading every chapter is this (ask yourself this question too): “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” Wow!
Success Demands Singleness of Purpose.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.