Book Review: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

This is the book that triggered the deluge in my current reading schedule. While working through a Blender tutorial one day last month it was suggested that reading The ONE Thing would fundamentally change the way I approached my work (and life in general) forever. I was sufficiently curious to open another window on my browser and link to my (primary) library to see if it was available. It wasn’t but was put on an inter-library exchange hold and (three weeks later) here it is. Last in time as far as reading (borrowing) but easily first in importance.

This book by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan was worth the wait. Starting with the front flyleaf it points out that we want more (productivity, satisfaction with life, time for self and family) and at the same time we want less (distractions, work stress, interruptions). This book offers the hope we can have both, and provides tools (one tool, actually) to cut clutter, reduce stress, achieve better results in less time, gain energy and master what matters to you. A pretty large claim, eh?

It delivers in spades. It starts with three chapters of introduction and background. Chapter one reveals the power of focus by aiming as small as possible. By limiting your focus to only one thing you are better able to use your energy and ability to their fullest.

Chapter two discusses the domino effect, where small actions cascade into unbelievable results. A domino can topple another half again as large, then a chart shows the effectiveness of a geometric progression. In less than twenty cycles of growth a 2″ (5cm) domino grows to taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the thirty-first looms over a thousand yards (900m) taller than Mount Everest and in 57 dominoes you can nearly reach the moon.

Chapter three gives examples of how success leaves clues to follow, using several examples of single focus and the resulting success.

What follows are three parts. In part one, “THE LIES: they mislead and derail us,” each of the six chapters reveals and debunks a commonly held belief that is wrong (but repeated often enough that we begin to believe it is true). These ideas, that everything is equally important, that multitasking works, more discipline leads to more success, willpower is always available if we just try (harder if needed), we need to live a balanced life (work and home) and that big dreams and vision is bad, are each refuted in turn and shown to be obstructions to success.

Part two “THE TRUTH: the simple path to productivity,” presents the Focusing Question (ultimately the central theme of the book): “What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” to drive focus, a chapter on creating the success habit (which takes 66 days on average, not the 21 or 30 days so commonly believed) , and ends with a chapter designed to ask and answer great questions.It uses a four quadrant chart of Big/Small and Broad/Specific to aim for Large-Specific questions to drive extraordinary results.

The last part EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS: unlocking the possibilities within you” contains five chapters of application, showing how to implement this principle in real life. Examples of how to put the rubber on the road and head the way towards your goal.

The book is an easy read, with many drawn illustrations and important segments already highlighted with a virtual pencil (saving you the need to hunt down a highlighter to mark the good stuff), Each chapter (apart from those in part one) end with a collection of Big Ideas summary of the main points of the chapter. In keeping with the basic philosophy, the acknowledgements, author biographies, and copyright pages are all at the very back of the book (rather than the front per the Chicago Manual of Style).

Perhaps the best indication of how much of an impact it has made on my understanding of success (and how to get there) is the simple fact it is at the top of my “Must buy NEXT” list. In terms of ranking, this book gets a 1 rating out of 1. I think it’s just that important. A must read.

Now, go out, read it, and apply what it teaches. I’ll meet you at the top.

Phred

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One thought on “Book Review: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

  1. Pingback: One (Baby) Step At A Time…” | Phred the Elder

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