Summary of The One Thing

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8 Overall

9 Applicability

7 Innovation

8 Style


Gary Keller, co-founder of Keller Williams Realty and a best-selling author, overcame his own issues about focus, which makes his claims about cultivating better habits even more compelling. Multitasking isn’t fruitful, he says, since success requires long periods of laser-like concentration, not scattershot swats. If you find your “ONE Thing,” Keller says, everything else will fall into place. Keller, writing with co-author Jay Papasan, breaks his approach down into manageable steps based on research and experience. With an engaging writing style and plenty of bullet points, this reads much faster than its 200-plus pages. getAbstract recommends Keller’s methods to new managers, time-strapped executives and anyone seeking habits that build success.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why trying to do everything doesn’t usually bring success,
  • How to turn your do-everything approach into a targeted “ONE Thing” approach, and
  • How to manage your time to improve your work and home life while achieving unparalleled success.

About the Authors

Gary Keller, author of The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, is chairman of the board of Keller Williams Realty, where co-author Jay Papasan is vice president of publishing.



The Importance of Focus

In the early 1990s, a grumpy old cowboy named Curly, played by Jack Palance, revealed a great truth in a popular movie, City Slickers. “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that,” he told a city slicker named Mitch, played by Billy Crystal, offering a formula for success in a few words.

One-shot prioritizing – or “going small” with a focus on a singular purpose or achievement – enables some people to get more done in a day. Desks groaning with to-do lists and calendars packed with dozens of projects divide your concentration into tiny pieces, while excelling at a few things is the way to succeed. Adding more projects without cutting others dooms your results, your family relationships, friendships, diet, sleep patterns and health. Chopped up, your life gets small, but developing a singular focus on one necessary target puts many larger forces into motion. When you prioritize your primary task, everything else falls into line, like dominoes.

This functions in science, as Lorne Whitehead noted in the American Journal of Physics in 1983. He found that one domino can topple another that is 50% larger. Starting with a two...

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    Marge Di Blasio 11 months ago
    great book! Not only because I'm a big fan of Garry Keller but also because I've been around people who's been practicing this concept and witnessed how it transformed their lives.. Not easy when I started, specially nowadays and if you're in I.T industry but once you develop the habit, and have the right people/support, it's doable..definitely helps me to be more effective on how I execute things because of having clear priorities.. knowing the "One Thing".
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    kiersten thiel 1 year ago
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    Andrew Cherrie 1 year ago
    Whilst useful, there's nothing revolutionary here.
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    Titilayo Ashiru 1 year ago
    Very useful tips
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    'Peggy Carol 2 years ago
    Awesome advice!!!
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    Valeriy Mitrokhin 2 years ago
    It is always necessary to perform the work or to achieve goals as priorities it is not possible to do many different things. In life everything should be done in order
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    Ashish Agarwal 2 years ago
    Sun Tzu said in his Art of War - "all plans fail at the first point of contact"; the entire plan above apparently hinges on creating an environment that supports your goals, and therein lies its downfall.
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    Scott Moskowitz 2 years ago
    One of my favorite books. This process does allow you to focus better than other ones. The metaphor of the dominoes is very powerful (pun intended) #30DaysofSummaries
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    NILKANTH PATEL 2 years ago
    A change is practice is always a challenge. I have however tried to put this into practise but find myself multitasking as an old habit. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. So taking it as it comes
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    Yuliia Danyltsova 2 years ago
    I used to multitask and multifocus since my early childhood. Now trying to focus on my ONE thing, seems to be quiet challenging... Is there anyone else facing up with challenges on changing behaviors? How soon did you manage to fully apply and benefit from the ONE thing focus?
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    Chong Park 2 years ago
    The message of the book seems to me to be a quite radical way of approach having a single priority and blocking a big chunk of daily available time for the ONE thing that matters for yourself. Nonetheless, I agree that extraordinary results are born by "many little steps" driven by the underlying purpose. Good reminder to think about what my most important priority is. #30DaysOfSummaries
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    Pratik Shah 2 years ago
    This is one of the most important books I would have read. It totally changed my thinking. Before i read this book, I had multiple goals. But wasn't able to make head way since I was spreading myself very thin over multiple goals. But now I do focus on most important goal and NOT goals. If you have any doubts about the concept one can also read 'Deep Work' by Cal Newport.
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    Darragh Kelly 2 years ago
    Reminds me of the "Eat the Frog" concept - need to crack on with the most important task first, regardless of how unpalatable it may be.
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      htaik seng 2 years ago
      I like to 'Eat the Frog' and mostly forgot and lose focus. Is there a good streagy you use to remember to eat the frog?
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    Sarah Reimer 2 years ago
    This reminds me a bit of _Essentialism_, which was a really great read. From the summary it's not clear to me whether the "one thing" is simply the largest career goal. The summary also shows making time for family and exercise, too.
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    Wim Annerel 2 years ago
    Excellent book summary! #30DaysOfSummaries #readingchallenge
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    Merthan Kaleli 2 years ago
    The book is an easy read with good structure, commonsense illustrations and a singularity of message.
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    Very useful book. Highly recommended.
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    Darin Wogen 3 years ago
    Great book and thought... focus and consistency....Thanks getAbstract....
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    Truc Nguyen 3 years ago
    Nice book, it's very useful for me! Thanks getAbstract!
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    Herson Nuke 3 years ago
    Valuable read!!!
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    Deborah Johnson 3 years ago
    great reminder on focus
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    Walaa Hamouda 3 years ago
    Very useful book for whom could't find their first stips to success 
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    NILKANTH PATEL 4 years ago
    great book. Now try and put it in practise.
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    Shashi Sharma 4 years ago
    Is it correct that only Summary can be downloaded, and not the whole book??
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      Cami Adair 4 years ago
      getabstract just gives you the most important points so you can get to the meat of the book without having to read 200+ pages, or at least it lets you know if you are interested enough to read the whole book before buying.
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    Louis-Simon Menard 4 years ago
    It's always very easy to think we do a lot in a day - but do we always focus on what's truly important? What's in line with our "Big Picture"? This book reminds us about the importance of that focus.
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    Qamar Aftab 4 years ago
    Good book on how to build and keep your focus
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    HARVISON MALDONADO 4 years ago
    The description given in the first part depicts just my daily day, i will give this a shot, i will need to build my team leadership to make this work.
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    Michael Cruz 4 years ago
    I had a business coach that recommended this book a couple of months ago. Today I pulled the trigger and read it. 

    This book brings clarity on what I should focus on. I will probably read it a couple of times through out the next couple of weeks to implement things like time blocking, and focusing on the one thing for the different areas of my life. Great summary! 
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    Najee Price 5 years ago
    My life either revolves around others success, or my time is consumed by assisting other accomplish their daily task. leaving me with enough time to only sleep and go back to work. I might need this in my life. If Anyone has some insight on this book, reach out. Thanks!
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    Christoff Boshoff 5 years ago
    Good concepts - not all that new but great reminders for practical application. I agree with the author that focusing on the “one think” is what is needed for success – how much time are you wasting on activities that are not in service of fulfilling your purpose?
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    William Greene 5 years ago
    This is a good read for anyone who finds themselves helping others achieve their goals but seldomly achieving any of their own.
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    Pat Brigger 6 years ago
    Hi John this summary does not yet have an audio version. 
    • Avatar
      Brandon Simas 5 years ago
      I wish it did
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    John Kent 6 years ago
    How do I get the audio to play on my iPhone?
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      Karen Londo 6 years ago
      hello John, Please copy and past the link below to your browser, or click on our "How it Works" tab for the iPhone.
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