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The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results Hardcover – April 1, 2013
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What's your ONE thing?
People are using this simple, powerful concept to focus on what matters most in their personal and work lives. Companies are helping their employees be more productive with study groups, training, and coaching. Sales teams are boosting sales. Churches are conducting classes and recommending for their members.
By focusing their energy on one thing at a time people are living more rewarding lives by building their careers, strengthening their finances, losing weight and getting in shape, deepening their faith, and nurturing stronger marriages and personal relationships.
YOU WANT LESS. You want fewer distractions and less on your plate. The daily barrage of e-mails, texts, tweets, messages, and meetings distract you and stress you out. The simultaneous demands of work and family are taking a toll. And what's the cost? Second-rate work, missed deadlines, smaller paychecks, fewer promotions--and lots of stress.
AND YOU WANT MORE. You want more productivity from your work. More income for a better lifestyle. You want more satisfaction from life, and more time for yourself, your family, and your friends.
NOW YOU CAN HAVE BOTH ― LESS AND MORE. In The ONE Thing, you'll learn to:
- cut through the clutter
- achieve better results in less time
- build momentum toward your goal
- dial down the stress
- overcome that overwhelmed feeling
- revive your energy
- stay on track
- master what matters to you
The book has:
- Made on more than 575 appearances on national bestseller lists
- Been #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller, New York Times bestseller, and USA Today bestseller
- Been translated into 40 languages
- Won 12 book awards
- Voted Top 100 Business Book of All Time on Goodreads
The ONE Thing delivers extraordinary results in every area of your life--work, personal, family, and spiritual. WHAT'S YOUR ONE THING?
About the Author
Gary Keller is the executive chairman of KWx and cofounder of Keller Williams Realty, Inc, which holds the #1 position as the largest real estate company in the world. His New York Times bestselling books have sold more than 4 million copies.
Jay Papasan, former editor at HarperCollins Publishers, coauthorsGary's books and is vice president of learning at Keller Williams. He is a frequent event speaker and corporate trainer.
- ASIN : 1885167776
- Publisher : Bard Press; 1st edition (April 1, 2013)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781885167774
- ISBN-13 : 978-1885167774
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.03 x 0.8 x 8.54 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #5,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Reviewed in the United States on July 21, 2017
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The book opens with a dialogue between Curly and Mitch from the comedy/drama, “City Slickers”.
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
Mitch: No. What?
Curly: This. [He holds up one finger.]
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean sh*t.
Mitch: That’s great, but what’s the “one thing”?
Curly: That’s what you’ve got to figure out.
The route to extraordinary success, according to Keller, is the discovery of what your ‘One Thing’ is.
As children, we were required to do things when the time came: breakfast time, time to go to school, time to do homework, bath time, and bedtime. As we got older, we were given the discretion to choose when to do things, but not whether – homework before bed. But as adults, everything becomes a choices, and it is these choices that define our lives. This book addresses the question of how to make good choices.
Without a clear formula for making decisions, everything feels urgent and important. The ‘One Thing’ is such a formula.
Keller describes the search for the ‘One Thing’ tightly: “What’s the One Thing you can do this week (day/month or year) such that by doing it, everything else would be easier or unnecessary?” He reports that where he has had huge success, it was always a function of narrowing his concentration down to one thing - and the converse was true too.
Your to-do list probably contains many entries and possibly a few rated ‘A’. What this indicates is that you could be focusing attention on all your ‘A’s today, as opposed to the ‘One Thing’ that will help you achieve your major ‘One Thing’ in your business or private life. To-do lists commonly lack the focus on the ‘One Thing’ - success. “In fact,” notes Keller, “most to-do lists are actually just survival lists.” Survival lists are long, success lists are short.
Keller uses this principle to explain why some people seem to get ahead where others don’t. Why, with the same number of hours available, do some succeed and others don’t? The successful identified the ‘One Thing’ that they really wanted to achieve, and applied the ‘One Thing’ principle to it, daily. This is not limited to work, but to one’s health – (What is the one thing I should do to increase my fitness?), marriage, income, and so on.
This is the realization that not everything matters equally and that focusing on many things precludes giving your ‘One Thing’ the time and effort it deserves.
To grasp the full intent of the criteria for a true ‘One Thing’, focus needs to be on the second half of the formula: “What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”
To illustrate the power of this insight, Keller cites the ‘domino effect’. This effect is the repercus sions of an act on every associated entity, like a row of standing dominos that falls when just the first one is pushed over. In an article in the prestigious American Journal of Physics in 1983, Lorne Whitehead described how a single domino can bring down another domino that is actually 50 percent larger.
Getting extraordinary results is all about creating a domino effect in your life through the ‘One Thing’ principle.
The ‘One Thing’ bears a striking resemblance to the over-used Pareto Principle, or the ‘80-20’rule, and differs only in that Kelly takes it to the extreme. His call it to take the 20% of your activities which will give you 80% of your benefit, and identify the ‘One Thing’ from that - the vital few of the vital few, until you get to the essential One Thing. All efforts are not equal, some will produce significantly more.
To be able to say “yes” to the ‘One Thing’ requires saying no to all else. “Whether you say ‘later’ or ‘never’, the point is to say, ‘not now’ to anything else you could do until your most important work is done,” Keller advises.
The suggestion that human beings can multitask is nonsense. Professor Clifford Nass of Stanford University, conducted enough experiments to conclude that “multitaskers were just lousy at everything.” The term was developed to describe computers not people, and the computers only processed only one piece of code at a time, just fast enough to appear as multitasking.
Once the ‘One Thing’ of your work or current concern is identified, you won’t have to become a extremely disciplined human being to achieve. We already, naturally, have more discipline than we need: we simply need to direct and manage it a little better. “When you see people who look like disciplined people, what you’re really seeing is people who’ve trained a handful of habits into their lives,” Keller observes.
Success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right.
Before retiring, Michael Phelps had won 22 medals, making him the most-decorated Olympian in any sport. His coach since age 11, Bob Bowman, talked of his ability to focus as his greatest attribute, despite the fact that others said he would “never be able to focus on anything”. It would be fair to say that Phelps channelled all of his energy into one discipline, the One Thing, that developed into one habit—swimming daily.
The results from developing the right habit are inevitable, they produce both the success you are searching for which greatly simplifies your life.
“It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do,” Keller notes, “it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.”
The ‘One Thing’ is hardly a new notion, anyone who ever attended the 30-minute motivational speech at the company conference, has heard it. But hearing the message is quite different from internalizing it. Reading this very accessible book will ensure the message is internalized.
And you will be very pleased you did.
Readability Light -+--- Serious
Insights High -+--- Low
Practical High ---+- Low
*Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy, and is the author of the recently released ‘Executive Update.
"Until my ONE Thing is done—everything everything else is a distraction."
I’ve just read a powerful book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan. This bestseller will certainly be on my Top-10 book list for 2016, and is already a contender for my 2016 book-of-the-year.
But first—an apology. The ONE Thing waited patiently on my overflowing “books-to-read” shelves for three years. Then recently, it popped back onto The Wall Street Journal business bestsellers list. (OK. OK. I’ll read it!) But I apologize because you (and I) could have been much more productive over these last three years. So sorry—but better late than never.
Gary Keller, chairman of the board and cofounder of Keller Williams Realty, Inc., the largest real estate company in the U.S., has seen his share of failures and successes—and that’s how he discovered The ONE Thing.
He writes, “Where I’d had huge success, I had narrowed my concentration to one thing, and where my success varied, my focus had too.” Here’s Keller’s big idea:
"What's the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?"
Read his chapter titles and you’re hooked. The first section highlights six lies that mislead and derail us:
• Lie #1: Everything Matters Equally
• Lie #2: Multitasking
• Lie #3: A Disciplined Life
• Lie #4: Willpower Is Always on Will-Call
• Lie #5: A Balanced Life
• Lie #6: Big Is Bad
The second section addresses the focusing question, the success habit (66 days), and the path to great answers. The final section motivates with unusual clarity on the four thieves of productivity:
• Thief #1: Inability to Say “No”
• Thief #2: Fear of Chaos
• Thief #3: Poor Health Habits
• Thief #4: Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals
Well…I promised you 10 tweetable quotations. (I know—somewhat ironic that I have over 20 quotations in a book review about The ONE Thing.) On a short plane ride, I winnowed hundreds of PowerPoint-worthy insights down to just 35—just before I landed. I’ve given you three already—and here are 20 more (but who’s counting?). Tweet your 10 favorite!
On rabbits, to-do lists, and irrelevancy:
• "If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one." (Russian proverb)
• "Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list—a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results."
• "...it turns out that high multitaskers are suckers for irrelevancy."
On a “balanced life” and productivity:
• "A 'balanced life' is a myth—a misleading concept most accept as a worthy and attainable goal without ever stopping to truly consider it."
• "'Don't put all your eggs in one basket is all wrong.' I tell you ‘put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.'" (Dale Carnegie)
• "Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse, keeping busy or burning the midnight oil. ... It's more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time." (Margarita Tartakovsky)
On goal-setting, accountability, and coaching:
• "Accountable people receive results only others dream of."
• "When Arthur Guinness set up his first brewery, he signed a 9,000-year lease."
• "Earlier I discussed Dr. Gail Matthew's research that individuals with written goals were 39.5 percent more likely to succeed. But there's more to the story. Individuals who wrote their goals and sent progress reports to friends were 76.7 percent more likely to achieve them."
• “Ericsson’s research on expert performance confirms the same relationship between elite performance and coaching. He observed that ‘the single most important difference between these amateurs and the three groups of elite performers is that the future elite performers seek out teachers and coaches and engage in supervised training, whereas the amateurs rarely engage in similar types of practice.’”
On saying no:
• “Someone once told me that one ‘yes’ must be defended over time by 1,000 no’s.”
• In the two years after Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, “he took the company from 350 products to ten. That’s 340 no’s, not counting anything else proposed during that period.”
On time-blocking and buckets to focus on The ONE Thing:
• "Build a bunker. Turn off your phone, shut down your email, and exit your Internet browser. Your most important work deserves 100 percent of your attention."
• "My recommendation is to block four hours a day. This isn't a typo. I repeat: four hours a day. Honestly, that’s the minimum. If you can do more, then do it."
• "If your time-blocking were on trial, would your calendar contain enough evidence to convict you?"
• "The people who achieve extraordinary results don't achieve them by working more hours. They achieve them by getting more done in the hours they work."
• "Paul Graham's 2009 essay, 'Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule,' underscores the need for large time blocks."
• "Graham divides all work into two buckets: maker (do or create) and manager (oversee or direct)."
•"To experience extraordinary results, be a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon. Your goal is 'ONE and done.’ But if you don't block each day to do your ONE Thing, your ONE Thing won't become a done thing."
"One of the reasons I've amassed a large library of books over the years is because books are a great go-to resource. Short of having a conversation with someone who has accomplished what you hope to achieve, in my experience books and published works offer the most in terms of documented research and role models for success."
Keller: “After my wife, Mary, read this book, I asked her to do something. She turned to me and you know what she said? ‘Gary, that’s not my ONE Thing right now!’ We laughed, high-fived, and I got to do it myself!”
Ready, set, TWEET!
Top reviews from other countries
The idea that you should focus on the area where you can have the biggest impact on performance makes a great deal of sense. It's the logic for the weakest link of the chain and the main idea behind the Theory of Constraints.
On the other hand, one is a number that scares me because it leaves you vulnerable. One person to love, one source of income, if you're a business owner, one product, one customer, or one way of finding customers. In these terms, it doesn't make sense.
The idea can be twisted too far. I felt that some readers would take the idea of concentrating on one literally.
I'm a fan of the 80/20 rule. Concentrate on the 20% of activities that brings 80% of rewards. That seems more balanced to me.
In the first section of the book, about the lies used to mislead us, I felt the author was setting up straw men, that is, false parodies of ideas to then debunk.
It seems ironic to me that's a book about the one thing is quite long and talks about many things to live this way.
I think part of my problem is that I refuse to accept the concept of the one thing. I prefer the idea of the critical few. Focus is great ask and you should ask yourself a version of the question so you keep a clear priority and work to it.
The book encourages you to plan backwards (an excellent idea) by continually focusing on the one thing that is needed previously.
Let's say but you decide the one thing you want to do is to be a great father. A very worthy objective.
And then you ask yourself what's the one thing you can do to be a great father and decide it's to prepare the children for a life of independence so they can stand on their own, if needs be.
And you decide the one thing to do that best is to make sure they have an excellent education and through it commit to a lifetime of learning.
The one thing to do that is to send them to an excellent private school so they have every advantage.
That means you need to earn a great deal of money, so either have to work extremely hard to become a successful employee who is regularly promoted or through your own business. And that means long hours away from home.
I feel this chain of logic makes sense until you recognise what it might cost you. It means missing out on your children growing up and all the pleasures and special memories that brings. It also probably means you're divorced because your wife hasn't been a priority. The sad result is that despite your best intentions, you'd look back on your life and realise that you hadn't been a great father.
Rather than focusing on the one thing, if you focus on the critical few, you can get a better result because you're able to find balance. True it never balances but you can see which bit is most out of kilter and focus on that one thing until something else comes the weakest link.
The book makes some excellent points but I also worry about where it can take you. I find I can't give it a strong recommendation but my three stars means that it is worth reading.
Paul Simister, business coach
Btw, if you are so eager to know the whole substance of the book in one sentence here it goes: If you want to be successful in your endeavor then don't scatter your mind and work into various direction but keep just one thing in your mind, have a focused and singular attention to your goal only, and that's it.
What an unique idea, right?