Book Review: The One Thing


The One Thing - book cover

Title: The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Author: Gary W. Keller, Jay Papasan

I am a bit wary of self-help books as I usually feel I either fully trust them or won't get anything of use (and that some are mere money grabbers). Thankfully, this title is not one of them. It is "only" about focusing your energies, work efforts and even lifestyle one one thing at a time, plus creating a plan to achieve "the one thing" that really drives you, and then proceeding towards that ultimate goal by applying some efficiency techniques.

At around 220 pages, it both contains some really interesting tips, advices and tactics, but also lots of bloating, small stories which sometimes are given a (at least for me) fragile interpretation to adapt to that "one thing seeking" and sometimes multiple paragraphs going in circles around a single concept. It is not bad, and maybe is just that I prefer more condensed information, but my general feeling is that the book could be half the size.

That said, you might fully or partially agree with the topics exposed but I think that there are some good ways of increasing your focus to achieve more.


  • No one succeeds alone. No one
  • "Where I'd had huge success, I had narrowed my concentration to one thing, and where my success varied, my focus had too"
  • Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus
  • Success is built sequentially. It's one thing at a time
  • "Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least" -Johan Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Equality is a lie
  • When everything feels urgent and important, everything seems equal
  • The 80/20 Principle (aka Pareto's Principle)
  • Prioritize a to-do list so it becomes a success list. Also, go small, go extreme and say no/discard
  • Multitasking is a lie
  • Disciplined life is a lie. We don't need more discipline, but to direct and manage it better
  • Success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right
  • Once a new behaviour becomes a habit, it takes less discipline to maintain
  • It takes an average of 66 days to acquire a new habit
  • The act of living a full life by giving time to what matters is a balancing act
  • In your personal life go short and avoid long periods where you're out of balance. [...] Nothing gets left behind
  • In your professional life go long and embrace long periods out of balance. [...] is required [to remove lesser priorities]
  • Life is the art of progressing
  • Think big - Act big - Succeed big
  • The quality of an answer is determined by the quality of the question
  • Asking questions improves learning and performance by as much as 150%
  • Sometimes questions are more important than answers -Nancy Willard
  • Out putpose sets our priority and our priority determines the productivity our actions produce
  • Financially wealthy people are those who have enough money in without having to work to finance their purpose in life
  • Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now -Alan Lakein
  • Purpose without priority is powerless
  • Hyperbolic discounting: the farther away a reward is in the future, the smaller the intermediate motivation to achieve it
  • Goal setting to the now: someday goal -> five-year goal -> one-year goal -> monthly goal -> weekly goal -> daily goal -> right now
  • Getting the most out of what you do, when what you do matters
  • Time blocking: Way of making sure that what has to be done gets done
  • Resting is as important as working
  • Recommendation: block four hours a day
  • Be a "maker" in the morning and a "manager" in the afternoon
  • When stuff pops out in your head, write it down on a task list and get back to what you're supposed to be doing
  • See mastery as a path you go down instead of a destination you arrive at
  • 10,000-hour rule: It takes 10k hours to achieve mastery at something
  • A different result requires doing something different
  • absorb setbacks and keep going. [...] persevere through problems and keep pushing forward
  • Circumstances won't change by themselves
  • The four thieves of productivity:
  • Inability to say "no"
  • Fear of chaos
  • Poor health habits
  • Environment [that] doesn't support your goals
  • When you say yes to something, it's imperative that you understand what you're saying no to
  • You can't please everyone, so don't try
  • The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook -William James
  • High achievement and extraordinary results require big energy
  • Spend the early hours energizing yourself
  • Surrond yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher -Oprah Winfrey
  • To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping -Chinese proverb
  • Twenty years from now you will be more dissapointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do -Mark Twain
  • A life worth living might be measured in many ways, but the one way that stands above all others is living a life of no regrets
  • Life is too short to pile up woulda, coulda, shouldas

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