Read: October 2014
Rating: 4/5 (Great)
Almost unnecessary, the title pretty much sums it up. It’s about figuring out your One Thing and devoting everything to it. The Book is embodied with the question “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
Honestly, I hated to love this book. But, love it I did.
Another 130 page business book about a concept that can be summed up in 1 sentence? Yes. Another one.
About 70% into the book I made a note that, “this book just drills. It’s attacking one point in space from every possible angle. the one thing of the books is it to teach people the ONE Thing.”
Similar to Work the System, the book is short on actionable advice. Why? You don’t need it. All you need to do is figure out your One Big Thing and HAMMER ON IT.
In a world with an ever increasing number of options and distractions, the scarcity is attention and focus and the ones that will reap the rewards are the ones that acknowledge and build their lives not around novelty and breadth, but meaning and depth.
That’s the takeaway and it was well worth 130 pages of having it drilled into my head. If you sort of believe that but would like to have Gary Keller drill it into your head, read the book.
Note: My notes are in italics
Time is the currency of achievement,
“There can only be one most important thing. Many things may be important, but only one can be the most important.” —Ross Garber
If today your company doesn’t know what its ONE Thing is, then the company’s ONE Thing is to find out.
Everyone has one person who either means the most to them or was the first to influence, train, or manage them. No one succeeds alone. No one.
Passion for something leads to disproportionate time practicing or working at it. That time spent eventually translates to skill, and when skill improves, results improve. Better results generally lead to more enjoyment, and more passion and more time is invested. It can be a virtuous cycle all the way to extraordinary results.
Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list—a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results. To-do lists tend to be long; success lists are short. One pulls you in all directions; the other aims you in a specific direction.
“vital few and trivial many.”
It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.
loading and deloading ram is expensive
When you switch from one task to another, voluntarily or not, two things happen. The first is nearly instantaneous: you decide to switch. The second is less predictable: you have to activate the “rules” for whatever you’re about to do (see figure 6). Switching between two simple tasks—like watching television and folding clothes—is quick and relatively painless. However, if you’re working on a spreadsheet and a co-worker pops into your office to discuss a business problem, the relative complexity of those tasks makes it impossible to easily jump back and forth. It always takes some time to start a new task and restart the one you quit, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever pick up exactly where you left off. There is a price for this. “The cost in terms of extra time from having to task switch depends on how complex or simple the tasks are,” reports researcher Dr. David Meyer. “It can range from time increases of 25 percent or less for simple tasks to well over 100 percent or more for very complicated tasks.”
when you keep checking email. either quit or double down. Use EmailGa.Me
Media multitaskers actually experience a thrill with switching—a burst of dopamine—that can be addictive. Without it, they can feel bored. For whatever the reason, the results are unambiguous: multitasking slows us down and makes us slower witted.
habits are like life assets that keep producing whereas willpower is arbitrage
The trick to success is to choose the right habit and bring just enough discipline to establish it. That’s it. That’s all the discipline you need. As this habit becomes part of your life, you’ll start looking like a disciplined person, but you won’t be one. What you will be is someone who has something regularly working for you because you regularly worked on it. You’ll be a person who used selected discipline to build a powerful habit.
If you are what you repeatedly do, then achievement isn’t an action you take but a habit you forge into your life.
Nothing ever achieves absolute balance. Nothing. No matter how imperceptible it might be, what appears to be a state of balance is something entirely different— an act of balancing. Viewed wistfully as a noun, balance is lived practically as a verb. Seen as something we ultimately attain, balance is actually something we constantly do. A “balanced life” is a myth—a misleading concept most accept as a worthy and attainable goal without ever stopping to truly consider it. I want you to consider it. I want you to challenge it. I want you to reject it. A balanced life is a lie.
Purpose, meaning, significance—these are what make a successful life. Seek them and you will most certainly live your life out of balance, criss-crossing an invisible middle line as you pursue your priorities. The act of living a full life by giving time to what matters is a balancing act. Extraordinary results require focused attention and time. Time on one thing means time away from another. This makes balance impossible.
None of us knows our limits. Borders and boundaries may be clear on a map, but when we apply them to our lives, the lines aren’t so apparent. I was once asked if I thought thinking big was realistic. I paused to reflect on this and then said, “Let me ask you a question first: Do you know what your limits are?” “No,” was the reply. So I said that it seemed the question was irrelevant. No one knows their ultimate ceiling for achievement, so worrying about it is a waste of time. What if someone told you that you could never achieve above a certain level? That you were required to pick an upper limit which you could never exceed? What would you pick? A low one or a high one? I think we know the answer. Put in this situation, we would all do the same thing—go big. Why? Because you wouldn’t want to limit yourself. When you allow yourself to accept that big is about who you can become, you look at it differently.
GOING BIG Thinking big is essential to extraordinary results. Success requires action, and action requires thought. But here’s the catch—the only actions that become springboards to succeeding big are those informed by big thinking to begin with.
When people talk about “reinventing” their career or their business, small boxes are often the root cause. What you build today will either empower or restrict you tomorrow. It will either serve as a platform for the next level of your success or as a box, trapping you where you are.
courage isn’t the absence of fear, but moving past it, then thinking big isn’t the absence of doubts, but moving past them. Only living big will let you experience your true life and work potential.
success comes down to this: being appropriate in the moments of your life. If you can honestly say, “This is where I’m meant to be right now, doing exactly what I’m doing,” then all the amazing possibilities for your life become possible.
“put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.” Look round you and take notice; men who do that do not often fail. It is easy to watch and carry the one basket. It is trying to carry too many baskets that breaks most eggs in this country.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.
Here are some Focusing Questions to ask yourself. Say the category first, then state the question, add a time frame, and end by adding “such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” For example: “For my job, what’s the ONE Thing I can do to ensure I hit my goals this week such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” FOR MY SPIRITUAL LIFE… What’s the ONE Thing I can do to help others… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to improve my relationship with God… ? FOR MY PHYSICAL HEALTH… What’s the ONE Thing I can do to achieve my diet goals… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to ensure that I exercise… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to relieve my stress… ? FOR MY PERSONAL LIFE… What’s the ONE Thing I can do to improve my skill at ________… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to find time for myself… ? FOR MY KEY RELATIONSHIPS… What’s the ONE Thing I can do to improve my relationship with my spouse/partner… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to improve my children’s school performance… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to show my appreciation to my parents… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to make my family stronger… ? FOR MY JOB… What’s the ONE Thing I can do to ensure that I hit my goals… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to improve my skills… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to help my team succeed… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to further my career… ? FOR MY BUSINESS… What’s the ONE Thing I can do to make us more competitive… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to make our product the best… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to make us more profitable… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to improve our customer experience… ? FOR MY FINANCES… What’s the ONE Thing I can do to increase my net worth… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to improve my investment cash flow… ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to eliminate my credit card debt… ?
Quadrant 1. Big & Specific: “What can I do to double sales in six months?” Now you have all the elements of a Great Question. It’s a big goal and it’s specific. You’re doubling sales, and that’s not easy. You also have a time frame of six months, which will be a challenge. You’ll need a big answer. You’ll have to stretch what you believe is possible and look outside the standard toolbox of solutions. See the difference? When you ask a Great Question, you’re in essence pursuing a great goal. And whenever you do this, you’ll see the same pattern—Big & Specific. A big, specific question leads to a big, specific answer, which is absolutely necessary for achieving a big goal.
So if “What can I do to double sales in six months?” is a Great Question, how do you make it more powerful? Convert it to the Focusing Question: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do to double sales in six months such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” Turning it into the Focusing Question goes to the heart of success by forcing you to identify what absolutely matters most and start there. Why? Because that’s where big success starts too.
Whether offline or online, you’re trying to find people who have already gone down the road you’re traveling, so you can research, model, benchmark, and trend their experience. A college professor once told me, “Gary, you’re smart, but people have lived before you. You’re not the first person to dream big, so you’d be wise to study what others have learned first, and then build your actions on the back of their lessons.” He was so right. And he was talking to you too. The research and experience of others is the best place to start when looking for your answer. Armed with this knowledge, you can establish a benchmark, the current high-water mark for all that is known and being done.
Dickens reveals purpose as a combination of where we’re going and what’s important to us. He implies that our priority is what we place the greatest importance on and our productivity comes from the actions we take. He lays out life as a series of connected choices, where our purpose sets our priority and our priority determines the productivity our actions produce. To Dickens, our purpose determines who we are.
Happiness happens on the way to fulfillment. Dr. Martin Seligman, past president of the American Psychological Association, believes there are five factors that contribute to our happiness: positive emotion and pleasure, achievement, relationships, engagement, and meaning. Of these, he believes engagement and meaning are the most important. Becoming more engaged in what we do by finding ways to make our life more meaningful is the surest way to finding lasting happiness. When our daily actions fulfill a bigger purpose, the most powerful and enduring happiness can happen.
financially wealthy people are those who have enough money coming in without having to work to finance their purpose in life.
like scratching the itch you know what to build
The prescription for extraordinary results is knowing what matters to you and taking daily doses of actions in alignment with it. When you have a definite purpose for your life, clarity comes faster, which leads to more conviction in your direction, which usually leads to faster decisions. When you make faster decisions, you’ll often be the one who makes the first decisions and winds up with the best choices. And when you have the best choices, you have the opportunity for the best experiences. This is how knowing where you’re going helps lead you to the best possible outcomes and experiences life has to offer.
yes. you have to truly believe in it or the dip will kill you
Purpose also helps you when things don’t go your way. Life gets tough at times and there’s no way around that. Aim high enough, live long enough, and you’ll encounter your share of tough times. That’s okay. We all experience this. Knowing why you’re doing something provides the inspiration and motivation to give the extra perspiration needed to persevere when things go south. Sticking with something long enough for success to show up is a fundamental requirement for achieving extra-ordinary results.
build the 4th economy
“What’s the ONE Thing I can do in my life that would mean the most to me and the world, such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”
great coaching technique
I have this dialogue with people every day. It’s particularly effective when they ask me what they should do. I turn it around and say, “Before I answer your question, let me ask you something: Where are you going, and where do you want to be someday?” Without fail, as I walk them through Goal Setting to the Now, they catch on quickly and come up with their own answers, and by the time they tell me the ONE Thing they should be doing right now, I laughingly ask, “So why are you still talking to me?”
“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
“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” —Francine Jay
They do so because they devote maximum time to being productive on their top priority, their ONE Thing. They time block their ONE Thing and then protect their time blocks with a vengeance. They’ve connected the dots between working their time blocks consistently and the extra-ordinary results they seek.
it works but it does take time
FIG. 28 Your ONE Thing gets the time of day it deserves! Those who do this, in my experience, are the ones who not only become the most accomplished, but who also have the most career opportunities. Slowly but surely they become known in their organization for their ONE Thing and become “irreplaceable.” Ultimately, no one can imagine or tolerate the cost of losing them. (The opposite is equally true, by the way, for those lost in the land of “Everything Else.”) Once you’ve done your ONE Thing for the day, you can devote the rest of it to everything else. Just use the Focusing Question to identify your next priority and give that task the time it deserves. Repeat this approach until your workday is done. Getting “everything else” done may help you sleep better at night, but it’s unlikely to earn you a promotion.
To achieve extraordinary results and experience greatness, time block these three things in the following order: Time block your time off. Time block your ONE Thing. Time block your planning time.
In A Geography of Time, Robert Levine points out that most people work on “clock” time—“It’s five o’clock, I’ll see you tomorrow”— while others work on “event” time— “My work is done when it’s done.” Think about it. The dairy farmer doesn’t get to knock off at any certain time; he goes home when the cows have been milked. It’s the same for any position in any profession where results matter. The most productive people work on event time.
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.
When I first began to time block, the most effective thing I did was to put up a sheet of paper that said, “Until My ONE Thing Is Done—Everything Else Is A Distraction!”
THE THREE COMMITMENTS TO YOUR ONE THING Follow the Path of Mastery Move from “E” to “P” Live the Accountability Cycle
As intimidating as it might initially seem, when you can see mastery as a path you go down instead of a destination you arrive at, it starts to feel accessible and attainable. Most assume mastery is an end result, but at its core, mastery is a way of thinking, a way of acting, and a journey you experience. When what you’ve chosen to master is the right thing, then pursuing mastery of it will make everything else you do either easier or no longer necessary. That’s why what you choose to master matters.
be process oriented
More than anything else, expertise tracks with hours invested. Michelangelo once said, “If the people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem wonderful at all.” His point is obvious. Time on a task, over time, eventually beats talent every time. I’d say you can “book that,” but actually you should “block it.”
Ask an “E” to cut some firewood and the Entrepreneurial person would likely shoulder an axe and head straight for the woods. On the other hand, the Purposeful person might ask, “Where can I get a chainsaw?” With a “P” mindset, you can achieve breakthroughs and accomplish things far beyond your natural abilities.
start a mastermind
One of the fastest ways to bring accountability to your life is to find an accountability partner.
Individuals who wrote their goals and sent progress reports to friends were 76.7 percent more likely to achieve them. As effective as writing down your goals can be, simply sharing your progress toward your goals with someone regularly even just a friend, makes you almost twice as effective.
“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.”
FOUR THIEVES OF PRODUCTIVITY Inability to Say “No,” Fear of Chaos, Poor Health Habits, Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals
the opportunity cost of yes. how do you make it a habit to quantify the opportunity cost of yes?
When you say yes to something, it’s imperative that you understand what you’re saying no to.
“You can say no with respect, you can say no promptly, and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes. But just saying yes because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work.”
you gotta commit though
When you give your ONE Thing your most emphatic “Yes!” and vigorously say “No!” to the rest, extraordinary results become possible.
i called this wearing the weight. chaos then in some way is an indicator?
When you strive for greatness, chaos is guaranteed to show up. In fact, other areas of your life may experience chaos in direct proportion to the time you put in on your ONE Thing. It’s important for you to accept this instead of fighting it.
you can ignore these, not sustainable though
Now, in anybody’s life or work there are some things that just can’t be ignored: family, friends, pets, personal commitments, or critical job projects.
don’t be a victim of your circumstances. Don’t sacrifice your time block on the altar of “I just can’t make it work.” My mom used to say, “When you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them,”
Here’s the productivity secret of this plan: when you spend the early hours energizing yourself, you get pulled through the rest of the day with little additional effort.
move to a hub. set up a good base
Anyone and anything at any time can become a thief, diverting your attention away from your most important work and stealing your productivity right from under your nose. For you to achieve extraordinary results, the people surrounding you and your physical surroundings must support your goals.
No one succeeds alone and no one fails alone. Pay attention to the people around you. Seek out those who will support your goals, and show the door to anyone who won’t. The individuals in your life will influence you and impact you—probably more than you give them credit for. Give them their due and make sure that the sway they have on you sends you in the direction you want to go.
Start saying “no.” Always remember that when you say yes to something, you’re saying no to everything else. It’s the essence of keeping a commitment. Start turning down other requests outright or saying, “No, for now” to distractions so that nothing detracts you from getting to your top priority. Learning to say no can and will liberate you. It’s how you’ll find the time for your ONE Thing.
“I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.”
“To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.” —Chinese Proverb
this book just drills. its like mike gillilands metaphor of attacking everything from so many angles but with a single focus. the one thing of the books is it to teach people the ONE Thing.
“One step at a time” may be trite, but it’s still true. No matter the objective, no matter the destination, the journey to anything you want always starts with a single step. That step is called the ONE Thing.
Write down your current income. Then multiply it by a number: 2, 4, 10, 20—it doesn’t matter. Just pick one, multiply your income by it, and write down the new number. Looking at it and ignoring whether you’re frightened or excited, ask yourself, “Will my current actions get me to this number in the next five years?” If they will, then keep doubling the number until they won’t. If you then make your actions match your answer, you’ll be living large.
“My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us. One is Fear. It carries anxiety, concern, uncertainty, hesitancy, indecision and inaction. The other is Faith. It brings calm, conviction, confidence, enthusiasm, decisiveness, excitement and action.” The grandson thought about it for a moment and then meekly asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”
If you could go back in time and talk to the 18-year-young you or leap forward and visit with the 80-year-old you, who would you want to take advice from? It’s an interesting proposition. For me, it would be my older self. The view from the stern comes with the wisdom gathered from a longer and wider lens. So what would an older, wiser you say? “Go live your life. Live it fully, without fear. Live with purpose, give it your all, and never give up.” Effort is important, for without it you will never succeed at your highest level. Achievement is important, for without it you will never experience your true potential. Pursuing purpose is important, for unless you do, you may never find lasting happiness. Step out on faith that these things are true. Go live a life worth living where, in the end, you’ll be able to say, “I’m glad I did,” not “I wish I had.”
I researched, I read, I sought advice. From every credible source imaginable, I looked for clues and signs. Ultimately I stumbled on a simple point of view: 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
live. I wondered what people with nothing left to do but look back might tell me about how to move forward. Their collective voice was overwhelming, the answer clear: live your life to minimize the regrets you might have at the end.
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying did both. Ware spent many years caring for those facing their own mortality. When she questioned the dying about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, Bronnie found that common themes surfaced again and again. The five most common were these: I wish that I’d let myself be happier—too late they realized happiness is a choice; I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends—too often they failed to give them the time and effort they deserved; I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings—too frequently shut mouths and shuttered feelings weighed too heavy to handle; I wish I hadn’t worked so hard—too much time spent making a living over building a life caused too much remorse. As tough as these were, one stood out above them all. The most common regret was this: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself not the life others expected of me. Half-filled dreams and unfulfilled hopes: this was the number-one regret expressed by the dying. As Ware put it, “Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”
Last Updated on April 18, 2019 by RipplePop