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I don’t know what I expected when I started, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan, my first book of 2021. Several friends had recommended the book, giving it high praise.
The key point of the book is that we can achieve extraordinary things when we narrow our focus to just one thing. Throughout the book, Gary shares examples of high-achievers who reinforce this position.
While the premise is simple- if you want to be better, focus on fewer things but with higher repetition- it’s not easy. The book recounts how Michael Phelps trained up to six hours a day, seven days a week, for nine years before the Beijing Olympics.
Cool, that’s great. But most of us don’t have six hours a day to dedicate to just one activity.
And that is where the brilliance of this book comes into play.
The first section breaks down the lies we’ve been told about productivity and achievement. My favorite: that multitasking is efficient or even sufficient. Spoiler alert: It’s not!
The second section introduces The Focusing Question, which is the heart of The One Thing.
“What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
This one question serves two purposes: Defining our big picture purpose and clarifying our next immediate action.
And there’s a lot happening in this one question:
- What’s the one thing: You’re not asking for two or three or five things you can consider, but only one thing. It’s like being at an All You Can Eat Buffet, and being told you can choose only one item. It forces you to choose wisely.
- I can do: Hello, you are committing to action. It’s not theoretical or out of your hands.
- Such by doing it: This adds a bit of criterion to the action. It’s not just any action, but it’s action with purpose.
- Everything else will be easier or unnecessary: This forces us to focus on the action that impacts everything else. It’s finding the first domino that causes the chain reaction. And it shines a light on the truth that much of what we believe we have to do is unnecessary.
The book wraps up with iterations on the Focusing Question for various real-world scenarios. The question I’ve been asking myself is:
What is the One Thing I can do to increase revenue in fewer hours such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
The One Thing also tackles goal-setting and productivity tips so you can”find” the time needed to focus on your one thing. All in all, it was an easy read with some great, actionable advice.
Key Takeaway: Success comes from focusing on one thing.
Borrow or Buy? I bought this book, and I’m glad I did. It’s definitely a keeper and one I will revisit over and over again. If you buy it through this affiliate link, I’ll make a couple of pennies, but it won’t cost you a penny more.