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The One Thing

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The One Thing

The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Bard Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Achieving great success in all aspects of your life calls for devotion to one single thing.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Well Structured
  • Engaging


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.


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...

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.

Comment on this summary

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    A. M. 5 months ago
    Excellent summary
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    J. M. 6 months ago
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    T. G. 2 years ago
    Needed a specific differentiation between to-do list and a short success list, with examples.

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