4 Key Takeaways From The ONE Thing

The One Thing is a much needed reminded in today’s multi tasked world that the overlooked essential ingredient to success is the ability to stay focused when chasing your dreams. Successful people are not distracted. They do not let anything stand in their way of achieving their goals. This book provides a bullet proof plan to help those struggling to follow through to tune out all of the noise.

My key Takeaways from “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results" by Gary Keller

Takeaway #1 Ask Yourself This One Focusing Question To Live a Life of Purpose

Being overwhelmed stops most of us in our tracks, there are so many things we need and want to do – Where do we start? Most people have heard the quote about eating an elephant 1 bite at a time but to do that you first have to decide which bite to take first! Multitasking is not the answer. The author's of this book advise you to ask the following focusing question:

What's the ONE thing I can do, such that by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary?

The question has 2 levels. On a macro level the question helps you to identify your overall goal. On a short-term level it provides you with prioritized focus on the immediate action you need to take which leads to momentum and progress. Keep asking the question every day, visualize the next steps, complete them, and you'll start to achieve extraordinary things.

Takeaway #2 Form Habits One At a Time to Become Disciplined

To achieve your goals you need to create good habits, but again, this can be overwhelming. Discipline yourself to start with one habit, master it so that it becomes automatic, and then introduce other good habits one at a time, you're less likely to 'drop all the balls' this way.

Takeaway #3 Your Willpower Isn't Limitless – Recognize This & Harness It

With every decision you make, emotion you suppress, and behavior you modify your willpower becomes a little more depleted until it has been completely drained. This is why we often slip back into our old ways and indulge in guilty pleasures. Make the most of your day and harness your willpower by making key decisions and working on your priorities first thing in the day when your willpower is at its highest.

Takeaway #4 You Can't Pause Life – Accept The Chaos Whilst You Focus

When you've identified your goal and you're working towards it, one step at a time, you're going to find yourself distracted by other things going on in life. Whilst it's vital to manage your time and say no to people and tasks that are not important it's not possible or practical to completely pause life – Unexpected things come up all the time and your work/life balance should not be sacrificed long term in order to reach your goal i.e don't say no to your friends so many times that you end up losing them and don't miss out on seeing your kids grow up because you were striving for a promotion at work.

The One Thing Key Points

  • Everything is not equally important. Rather than doing a lot of different, unrelated things, choose to do the right things sequentially. It is just like a domino effect: one thing starts the ball rolling down a hill, and as the ball gets the momentum, it needs to grow larger.
  • Think big, aim for the moon. Getting there is achievable when you focus on “The ONE thing” and allow a domino effect to come into play. Extraordinary things are always built over time.
  • Think big but focus small. Work on fewer things that have more impact. Your ability to focus on your One Thing each day is what leads to big results.
  • To prioritize radically, keep asking the Focusing Question: “What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier?”
  • Multitasking is a myth—our brains can only focus on one thing at a time. What we call “multitasking” is in effect “task-switching,” during which our brains move constantly from one task to another. By doing this, we experience lost energy, and thus lost productivity and effectiveness.
  • Our willpower is limited. When our willpower runs out, we usually revert to our default settings and what's most comfortable. Therefore, conserve your energy and do your most important stuff first while your willpower is at its highest level.
  • Many successful people become successful by simply focusing on ONE passion or skill. Likewise, most successful companies start by focusing on ONE main product or service (e.g. Starbucks, Google).
  • Striving to always live a balanced life, where all areas of your life get the same attention, can keep you from extraordinary results. Instead, focus on your most important calling and allow some areas to remain unaddressed, at least temporarily.
  • Holding yourself accountable for the results you get in life is taking your power back. Avoid victimhood.

In-Depth Insight

Some Chaos Is to Be Expected

When you have landed upon your “one thing” and know the actions you need to take to get there, don’t panic when life starts getting in the way. little chaos is to be expected, as you can’t pause the ups and downs of life!

This is where you need to have effective time-management strategies in place. Sacrifices will be required, and you’ll need to delegate some of your regular tasks to other people, as well as learning to say no (which we mentioned before)!

As the chaos builds, so does the pressure. Trust that the work you are doing is the top priority, and that it will come through for you to make your life simpler/better in the long run. Don’t consider interrupting your momentum to focus on all the other things that need your attention, just minimize as many distractions as you can, and let the chaos pile up as you fiercely defend your blocks of time dedicated to working towards your dream.

The ONE Thing Chapters

Chapter One - The One Thing
Chapter Two - The Domino Effect
Chapter Three - Success Leaves Clues
Chapter Four - Everything Matters Equally
Chapter Five - Multitasking
Chapter Six - A Disciplined Life
Chapter Seven - Willpower Is Always on Will Call
Chapter Eight - A Balanced Life
Chapter Nine - Big is Bad



On average, 90% of what we read is forgotten within the first hours after reading... Which is why it’s so important to apply what you read.

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Best Quotes from The ONE Thing

"It is not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it is that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have…. Make sure every day you do what matters most. When you know what matters most, everything makes sense. When you don’t know what matters most, anything makes sense."

"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."

"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… When people look back on their lives, it is the things they have not done that generate the greatest regret...; it is their inactions that plague them most with long-term feelings of regret"

"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. One is a disorganized directory and the other is an organized directive.... If your to-do list contains everything, then it’s probably taking you everywhere but where you really want to go."

"Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus… the majority of what you want will come from the minority of what you do."

"Success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right."

"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."

― Gary Keller, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results


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Editor and Founder

Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.

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